The Irish Times.
Green Party T.D., Ciaran Cuffe, (Irish Times Opinion 22nd January) wrote about the need for Dublin Bus reform at the same time as the Government he supports is rowing back on the need for a relevant and focused Dublin Transport Authority. Last year, the Minister for Transport, eventually, pushed through legislation establishing such an Authority. Yet, we learned recently (Irish Times 14th January) that before it is even established the DTA is going to be subsumed into a new National Transport Authority and the Dublin regional focus is to be abandoned. Such a move would be a disaster.
For many years, along with others, I had advocated such an Authority with a powerful and integrated mandate. Despite reservations, I welcomed the commitment in the Fianna Fail/Green Programme that such an Authority with the necessary powers would be established.
Dublin needs a Dublin Transportation Authority. A reduced focus would be a major blow to the proper development of the Greater Dublin Area. It would also represent a major defeat of, or a betrayal by, the Green Party, of their supposed commitment to real integrated Planning and Transport. Quite simply it would be better to have no Transport Authority than for the travesty of proposals that are now emerging from the Department and Minister to come about. Shamefully, the new proposals still leaves all power in the hands of those responsible for the current mess, provides for no democratic accountability and flies in the face of everything that Dublin needs.
The pretence that the Authority will be accountable to the Oireachtas is perhaps the most cynical claim of all. “Transport for London” works because it has a democratic mandate to make the tough decisions and is not beholden to vested interests. Londoners accept tough decisions because they determine who will lead and control TfL. The proposed Transport Authority – whether its title is National or Dublin will have no such mandate. Contrary to the Ministers assertion it will indeed be a “HSE on Wheels”.
If Minister Dempsey is committed to genuine reform – and I used to believe he was – he must show a real willingness to amend his proposals. I want the people of Dublin to have the confidence that the decisions of the Transport Authority are taken in the interests of the people and County and not those who have for so long blocked reform, blocked accountability and blocked progress. The alternative is we create a HSE for Transport and we have all seen where that leads us.
Councillor Dermot Lacey