Irish rail transport system better under British, Sinn Féin ardfheis hears

Party warns of ‘wholescale privatisation of public transport services’

The Government is involved in "wholescale privatisation of public transport services", Sinn Féin transport spokesman Dessie Ellis has claimed.

He said the final preparations were being made this year by Fine Gael to privatise 10 per cent of Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus routes "as well as an incomprehensible 100 per cent of Waterford city services".

He said “they call it open tendering but the reality is that public companies cannot compete with the private market when it comes to cherry picking these routes, misrepresenting costs and engaging in a race to the bottom on wages and conditions to workers”.

Public hands
He said Sinn Féin believed a real transport system for all communities could only properly be delivered in public hands.


The Sinn Féin ardfheis also heard that Ireland’s rail transport system had been better under the British.

Derry MLA Cathal Ó hÓisín said "in 1890 no town or village in Ireland was more than five miles from a rail track. Many counties now, such as Tyrone, Fermanagh and Donegal have not heard or seen a train for over 60 years."

During a debate on transport he said “huge swathes of the west and particularly the northwest are devoid of any meaningful transport system on the road or any rail network”.

Describing the difference in treatment between the east and west in Ireland as another “insidious form of partition”, he said the road system in the North and west was waiting for an upgrade for many years and the Derry to Dublin route claimed lives on a regular basis, including the deaths of three people since January. The Derry to Belfast road still had a bottleneck at Dungiven, he said.

Sinn Féin had campaigned for 40 years for this bypass which would have cost £1 million in 1971 and it would cost £61 million today.

Mr Ó hOisín said Dublin and the Northern DUP Transport Minister had to co-operate to deliver this and other infrastructure including the Narrow Water bridge, that would join North and South between Carrickmucklagh, near Omeath, Co Louth and Warrenpoint, Co Down.

An Antrim delegate said “cyclists who cycle on the footpath are among the worst criminals”.

With regard to green transport, a motion was passed which called for increased investment in the North for cycling from about 58 pence a person each year to £10.

The motion also called for consideration to be given to introducing a bicycle infrastructure similar to Amsterdam and Copenhagen and the enforcement of cycle lanes.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times