Curious onlookers catch fleeting glimpse of future


Hundreds of people showed up in Dublin’s Merrion Square this afternoon to catch a glimpse of the first Luas tram on the streets of the capital city.

The £790,000 carriage, newly arrived from France, has been parked just below Government Buildings, where it was unveiled by the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern and the Minister for Public Enterprise, Mrs O'Rourke, this afternoon.

According to Mr Eamonn Brady, Luas publicity manager, the cost of installing the tram outside Government Buildings was about £25,000. This included the laying of 100 feet of track to hold the 90-foot-long tram.

The Labour Party described the event as a cynical abuse of the office of Taoiseach and a gross misuse of public funds but Fianna Fáil was quick to defend itself against allegations that it was using taxpayers' money to organise a "publicity stunt".

"Taxpayers' money is paying for it and people are entitled to see what it looks like", a spokesman for the Minister's said on Friday.

Next Tuesday the tram will be brought to the Luas depot at the Red Cow roundabout. The track from there to Tallaght would be completed by next February and it will be used for training drivers and testing the system.

The 30m-long, French-manufactured tram, with a capacity for 235 people, is the first of forty which will service the light rail system on the south side of the city.