Minister Ross fails his portfolio for a third year running in Budget 2019 – Munster
Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Imelda Munster TD has queried whether Minister for Transport Shane Ross was present for Budget negotiations, given the paltry increase received by his Department in Budget 2019, which amounts overall to an increase of just €20million.
Deputy Munster said:
“Transport, Tourism, and Sport was allocated minus €30million, that’s €30million less than previously announced in capital funding under the National Development Plan. A total additional €50million was allocated in current spending. €35million of that funding has been allocated to tourism. While the specific allocations are not clear at present, €6million has been allocated to Sport Ireland. Both tourism and sport are under the remit of Fine Gael junior Minister Brendan Griffin.
“This is very bad news for transport, a fact that was reflected in the Minister’s own Budget speech on Thursday, which hardly made mention of transport at all.
“This is an embarrassing result for Shane Ross. Not only has he caused serious hardship for small businesses across the entire tourism sector with a VAT increase, but he has failed to secure anything substantial for his portfolio. This is the third year in a row that Fine Gael has taken advantage of Minister Ross’s lack of interest in his portfolio. You would expect him to be wiser to them by now.
“Public transport didn’t get a look in. Shane Ross is currently privatising another 10% of Bus Éireann routes, and appears to see privatisation as an alternative to doing his job and looking after public transport. We all know that this is a false economy as privatisation of public transport companies has proved to be hugely costly in other states that have gone down that road, financially and socially. In our Alternative Budget, we pledged an increase of 25% for public transport subvention, which is an increase of €71million.
“In terms of capital funding, the Minister was awarded a minus sum. This is quite unbelievable. The problems that existed when Shane Ross took office are still there, because he hasn’t addressed them, and capital investment is the only way to sort out transport in this state. He hasn’t allocated anything additional for regional or local roads, which are crumbling, and will prove to be astronomically expensive to fix if he continues to refuse to address it. In our Alternative Budget, Sinn Féin allocated €123million more than the government did for transport capital funding.”