Government not responsible for Bus Éireann difficulties, Taoiseach says

Enda Kenny insists ‘commercial response’ needed for Bus Éireann’s problems

Busáras:  Enda Kenny says a resolution to the differences between Bus Éireann and the trade unions must be found. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Busáras: Enda Kenny says a resolution to the differences between Bus Éireann and the trade unions must be found. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Government is not responsible for the difficulties in Bus Éireann, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

“There are those who try to ascribe what is happening to a policy failing,’’ he said. “However, as the Minister for Transport, Deputy Shane Ross, and I have stated, this is a commercial problem and it deserves a commercial response.’’

He said a resolution to the differences between Bus Éireann and the trade unions must be found. “We must be very clear about this,’’ he added. “At the heart of this public policy is the travelling public.’’

He said the overarching objective was to get more people to .

Mr Kenny said the company had received an increase of 17 per cent in its subvention this year and it was now up to €35 million.

“However, it is a commercial fact that passenger growth has not been experienced in the Expressway of Bus Éireann, a service that competes with other operators,’’ he added.

Mr Kenny said nobody, least of all the Government or the Minister, underestimated the difficulties the company faced.

Travelling public

“However, these difficulties will not be resolved through media comment but through dialogue, discussion and negotiation,’’ he added. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there had been very significant events at Bus Éireann which had caused deep concern among the workforce and the travelling public.

The issues, he said, were fundamentally of a policy nature and there were important principles at stake. “It is very important that the Government makes it clear that it supports the principle of a State-supported public service transport company,’’ Mr Martin added.

He said there was real doubt and suspicion regarding the Minister’s inputs.

“It appears that something is afoot,’’ he added.

Mr Kenny said he could assure Martin nothing was afoot.

He said the Minister was very anxious that management and unions sat down and negotiated on the central issue, which was the commercial loss-making end of the Expressway service.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said an arm of government was putting the vital transport infrastructure of rural communities at risk. He said the Minister and the National Transport Authority (NTA) should be directed to sit down with the company and the trade unions and bring the “charade’’ to an end.