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Minister sacrifices public transport and roads investment for the prize of parish-pump politics – Munster

11 October, 2017 - by Imelda Munster TD

Speaking after the announcement of Budget 2018, Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson for Transport, Tourism and Sport Imelda Munster TD has hit out at Transport Minister Shane Ross, describing his tenure as “an unmitigated disaster for the transport sector and the future of public transport and rural development”.

The Budget revealed that the Department of Transport was to be allocated an additional €9.6million for public transport and improvements to the Republic’s roads. This is several billion euro short of what is required over the next number of years in order to get regional and local roads to a steady state condition, and ignores the serious problems currently faced by public transport services.

Deputy Munster said:

“Sinn Féin allocated €375.6million for local and regional roads in our Alternative Budget, and €95million of that is newly allocated funding. We also allocated an additional €45million in Public Service Obligation subvention for CIÉ companies, bringing the spend for 2018 to €308million. Yet, the government sees fit to allocate €9.6million, at a time where our roads crumbling, Iarnród Éireann is on the brink of collapse and the other transport companies are struggling.

“Nobody would ever accuse Minister Ross of being someone who values public transport rural Ireland, but today’s budget really takes the biscuit. I thought that last year’s meagre allocation was bad, but this year’s budget is quite unbelievable.

“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget provided €75million in additional funding for public transport, including a specific allocation of €30million for capital investment in Iarnród Éireann and €95million in additional funding for roads. There were also allocations for the Local Improvement Scheme, the Rural Transport Programme, cycling infrastructure, accessibility for people with disabilities and additional funding for the Sports Capital Programme and Tourism Ireland. The party also allocated €20million for north/south road projects.

“Minister Ross has completely abandoned public transport and the people who rely on it. He has shown his true colours today as an utter Thatcherite, who is clearly actively taking steps to ruin public transport in this state. One has to wonder if the reopening of Stepaside Garda station was his big prize this year, and if he sacrificed the well-being of his Department for blatant parish pump politics.” 

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