Healy Tells Taoiseach – Hands off our Bus Service – Give Tipperary a Fair Crack of the Whip

Speaking at Leaders Questions in the Dáil on 21st  Feb Deputy Healy said

 

“All citizens have a right to a satisfactory and good-quality public transport service. It is the duty of the State to ensure that such a service is provided. It cannot and must not be left to market forces.

 

Members of the public in my Tipperary constituency and in rural areas generally are entitled to the same standard of public transport as the constituents of the Minister, Deputy Ross, here in Dublin.

 

Yesterday, Bus Éireann proposed the closure of the Clonmel to Dublin bus service among others. This is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

 

Of course, it comes on the back of the closure of the Carrick-on-Suir to Dublin bus service in 2015. It comes on the back of the proposed closure of the Limerick to Waterford rail service and the Limerick to Ballybrophy rail service. The Limerick to Waterford rail line servicing Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel, Cahir and Tipperary town is being undermined on a daily basis by management regularly and frequently cancelling trains on that line. In addition, the main social and economic corridor across the south of the county, the N24, has been left out of the road capital programme, which is particularly damaging to the Tipperary town and Carrick-on-Suir. Of course, the failure to build the Thurles bypass, which has been overlooked for years, resulting in chaos in the square, turning it into a car park.

 

County Tipperary is not getting a fair crack of the whip.

 

A Fine Gael led Government already abolished Clonmel Borough Council and the town councils in Carrick-on-Suir, Cashel, Tipperary town, Thurles, Templemore and Nenagh. A Fine Gael led Government with the help of the Labour Party also closed the St. Michael’s 50 bed psychiatric unit at South Tipperary General Hospital.  Now north Tipperary patients must travel to Ennis and south Tipperary patients must travel to Kilkenny to avail of a service that is inadequate and substandard.

 

The abandonment of County Tipperary must stop.

 

I am asking the Taoiseach if he will give an assurance to stop any threat to the Clonmel to Dublin bus service. Will he give an assurance to re-establish the Carrick-on-Suir to Dublin bus service? After 20 years of waiting, will the Taoiseach give the go-ahead for the N24 upgrading, including the bypass of Tipperary town, Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir? Also after 20 years, will the Taoiseach give the go-ahead for the bypass of Thurles this afternoon?

 

We have been waiting for 20 years for both the N24 upgrade and the Thurles bypass. The Taoiseach’s Government and the previous Government starved public transport and road budgets. The road budgets fell between 2007 and 2015 by €1.722 billion. The State subvention to CIE was slashed by €132 million, from €321 million in 2008 to €189 million in 2015. The State subvention to Bus Éireann is down €16.3 million from €49.4 million to €33.1 million. The free travel contribution from the Department of Social Protection is completely inadequate. It has been capped for years despite increased numbers and the fact that 30% of Bus Éireann’s passengers are availing of free travel.

 

In June 2016, the Taoiseach wrote to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, seeking permission to borrow money for infrastructural works. He said at the time that investment in infrastructure in Ireland was “at its lowest level for many years, and also represents the lowest level of any member state at present”. He got no reply, or none that we heard of.

 

Italy recently told President Juncker it will borrow money with or without his permission.

 

I ask the Taoiseach to do likewise. Will he reassert Irish sovereignty and put the right of the Irish people to proper transport infrastructure, and other capital investment such as housing, before the EU and EU diktats.”

 

Seamus Healy T.D. 22/2/2017

 

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