Roscommon-Galway TD Claire Kerrane has called for the newly announced Connecting Ireland transport initiative to listen to the needs of rural communities.
Connecting Ireland, led by the National Transport Authority, is aimed at increasing public transport connectivity between cities, towns, surrounding villages and rural areas.
The Connecting Ireland initiative is planned to be implemented over five years from 2022, at an estimated cost of €57m.
Speaking following a briefing on the proposals, Deputy Kerrane said that rural communities have experienced “absolute inadequacy” when it comes to public transport links for decades.
She said that successive governments have failed to properly invest in connectivity and that although better services have been announced as part of Connecting Ireland, “the proof will be in the implementation.”
“In my own constituency of Roscommon-Galway, we are seeing services being removed rather than scaled up,” said Deputy Kerrane.
“We saw this recently with the removal of the 20/X20 Dublin to Galway bus route, and I know there are similar experiences in other rural areas.”
Deputy Kerrane highlighted a situation in Galway where “those living in Moylough and Mountbellew with appointments at nearby Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe are forced to get a bus to Galway City, and then get another bus out of Galway City to Ballinasloe.”
“There are countless examples of nonsensical gaps like this across rural communities.”
The Sinn Féin TD said that ensuring the consultation process is coherent, accessible and inclusive ‘really matters’.
“I encourage the NTA to reach out to all facets of rural communities, including engagement with local organisations representing Older People, Disabled People and Irish Rural Link.
“There must be a focus on addressing the fundamental flaws in our transport links to support workers and families with their day-to-day lives.
“Those living in these rural communities must be listened to as part of the development of this plan.”