Ireland has lowest subsidy in the EU for public transport, Dáil hears

Taoiseach insists State subvention to Bus Éireann last year was ‘highest ever’

United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly claimed in the Dáil that “even the United States subsidises private transport more than we fund public transport”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly claimed in the Dáil that “even the United States subsidises private transport more than we fund public transport”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Wed, May 15, 2013, 01:00


Ireland has the least subsidised public transport in Europe, the Dáil has heard in a row over the Bus Éireann dispute which crippled national bus services for two days.

United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly made the claim as she said “even the United States subsidises private transport more than we fund public transport”.

She asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny would it not be “far more sustainable economically and socially to increase the subsidy to CIÉ and Bus Éireann, enabling them to slash prices”.


Rejects claim
Mr Kenny, however, rejected her claim that the State subsidy to Bus Éireann had been slashed last year and insisted it was “the highest ever”.

The Dublin North TD had claimed Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar “slashes the subsidy to Bus Éireann and is then shocked that the company is somehow losing money”.

Ms Daly described as an “obscenity” that the Government paid €50 million every year in order to fund the West Link toll bridge on the M50 in Dublin, which was 10 times the cuts demanded by the bus company.

She said, “the idea that the Minister expects them to make savings of €5 million while he continues to subvent the private sector is absolutely reprehensible and is a bit of a fairy tale”.

Highlighting the strike by the State transport company’s drivers, which has been suspended for two days while talks take place at the Labour Relations Commission, Ms Daly said workers were expected to take a €3,000 to €4,000 pay cut.

She sharply criticised the company’s management for “the myth that workers are to blame”.

Management’s view seemed to be that workers “have an absolute neck to think they should be paid more for driving through the night, working weekends and doing 12-hour shifts”.

But Mr Kenny insisted the subsidy had not been slashed and was in fact “the highest ever”.

Ms Daly rejected this. “That is simply not true,” she said. The €49 million subsidy in 2009 had been reduced by €15 million since then and the wages bill had been slashed by another €15 million since then.


‘Meet the deficit’
She called for the Taoiseach to bring in a 5 per cent hike on new earners over €300,000 “in order to meet the deficit you want public sector workers to shoulder”.

Mr Kenny said he was getting “a bit fed up with this regular comment from Deputy Daly as if she is the only one in here who values the work the public service does”.

Insisting the Government valued the work of public servants Mr Kenny said there were many people who worked long hours and late nights to see services were provided.