Rural Ireland is being left behind by a Dublin-centric approach taken by successive Transport Ministers according to Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey. He made the comments after the Economic and Social Research Institute found that the increased cost of certain transport items is contributing to a higher rate of inflation amongst rural households.
The Midlands-North-West representative, who sits on the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, said many rural dwellers don’t benefit from recent public transport discounts as they are reliant on private services.
“Public transport discounts are very welcome in general but are meaningless to many people in rural Ireland who are either reliant on private operators or don’t live close to a rail bus route and are forced to take the car. This is backed up by recent research from the ESRI, which found that the increased cost of certain transport items is contributing to a higher rate of inflation amongst rural households. Rural isolation could became a major problem unless this glaring inequality isn’t addressed. I’m calling on the Minister to extend the discounts to private transport services as quickly as possible”, he commented.
The Louth based MEP noted that there has only been one Transport Minister from outside the greater Dublin area in the past 20 years.
“For much of the last two decades, transport policies have been focused on the greater Dublin area and that needs to change. I believe the next Transport Minister should be from outside the capital and in the meantime, the Government needs to put together a comprehensive and sustainable transport plan for rural Ireland.
“The Connecting Ireland initiative is a welcome start but will only see new and improved services happen on a phased basis over the next three years. In my view this is too little too late. Sustainable transport options for rural Ireland are needed now in order to convince people to leave the car at home, which will save on fuel costs and bring emissions down”, he concluded.