Irish Republican News · November 24, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Transport strike blamed on Minister

Bus and rail workers' across Ireland mounted a four-hour work stoppage today, culminating with a rally outside the Department of Transport in Dublin.

The workers, who are members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and SIPTU, were protesting at the failure of the Department of Transport to organise talks on the future of CIE, the national transport company.

The Minister for Transport, Mr Brennan, plans to break up the company and privatise some bus routes.

The unions said their action was not aimed at the travelling public but at Mr Brennan over their frustration at delays in talks. They decided to go ahead with the action despite the appointment of a the chairman for the talks.

CIE union members took part in protest marches in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and other towns. In Dublin, around 1,000 union members marched from the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square to parliament buildings to deliver a letter to the Department of Transport.

Fine Gael's transport spokesman, Denis Naughten, described the strike as ``pointless'' and a ``disgrace'', as talks are about to start with the Department of Transport.

Sinn Fein's spokesman on transport, Sean Crowe, blamed what he called Mr Brennan's ``shambolic and incoherent'' transport policy for the strike. This policy, he said, ``has eroded any and all confidence the unions had in his ability to deal with them in a fair and above-board manner''.

The Minister, he said, had ``constantly, and repeatedly undermined negotiations with the Unions and clearly prefers to negotiate through the national media than with the workers who will be charged with implementing his incoherent transport policy.

``This action is a shot across the bows of a Minister who is out of control, and out of touch with reality. He would be well advised to heed it.

``While all strike action is regrettable, it is with Minister Brennan that responsibility for today's disruption lies and if he will not listen to reason or common sense, then perhaps industrial action will make him pay attention.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News