Call for taxi firms to get subsidies so people in rural areas can socialise locally

Minister says number of checkpoints in recent weeks had led ‘Joe Public’ to feel ‘persecuted’

 Fianna Fáil’s Eamon Ó Cúiv: “What I am proposing is that through the LocalLink companies a subsidy be given to service providers on an organised basis to provide local area hackney services in and around rural areas”

Fianna Fáil’s Eamon Ó Cúiv: “What I am proposing is that through the LocalLink companies a subsidy be given to service providers on an organised basis to provide local area hackney services in and around rural areas”

 

Taxis companies should be given subsidies to provide services that would allow people in rural Ireland to socialise in their local areas, the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party has heard.

There are growing calls from politicians for improved and expanded schemes to help those living in rural Ireland to socialise by offering transport home.

The Irish Times has reported that increased early morning Garda drink-driving checkpoints, as a result of tighter drink-driving laws, have come in for heavy criticism from Ministers.

Figures in both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael say the new drink-driving system cannot be changed, but claimed the controversy over Garda checkpoints was a way of sending a message that further rule changes will not be tolerated.

The Cabinet heard a number of concerns about the latest efforts by the Garda roads policing unit in rural Ireland. Among those who spoke on the issue were Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Minster for Rural Development Michael Ring.

At the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív raised the idea of hackney subsidies. Mr Ó Cúiv said he had “floated” the idea, but stressed Robert Troy was the party’s transport spokesman. Other party TDs said Mr Ó Cuív’s policy had merit.

A scheme called LocalLink provides a combination of scheduled bus routes as well as door-to-door services in towns, villages and rural areas under the direction of the National Transport Authority.

“What I am proposing is that through the LocalLink companies a subsidy be given to service providers on an organised basis to provide local area hackney services in and around rural areas,” Mr Ó Cuív said.

LocalLink services

A similar call has come from Martin Heydon, chair of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, who has also called for an extension of the evening and weekend LocalLink services.

There was some criticism at the Fianna Fáil meeting at the party’s backing of the drink-drive legislation last year from TDs such as Carlow Kilkenny’s Bobby Aylward and Cork South West’s Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, with one source present saying there was “a need to implement a proper transport scheme where there is no public transport”.

Separately, one Minister said that the number of checkpoints in recent weeks had led “Joe Public” to feel “persecuted”.

Sean Canney, the Independent Minister of State for Communications, said the public concern was an issue for An Garda Síochána rather than Minister for Transport Shane Ross of the Independent Alliance.

Mr Canney left the Independent Alliance last May following a disagreement over the allocation of a junior ministerial post.