Former Transport Minister says Shane Ross is right to stay out of Bus Éireann crisis

However, Noel Dempsey added that a solution needs to be found "very urgently"

Former Transport Minister says Shane Ross is right to stay out of Bus Éireann crisis

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Former Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey said that the crisis surrounding Bus Éireann won't be solved unless people sit and talk around a table.

However, these discussions do not have to include the current Transport Minister Shane Ross.

"The government has one function here and that's deciding on the overall amount of the subsidy to public transport", he said on Newstalk Breakfast. "If Shane Ross or the Department or the government move in to start waving a cheque book about, there will be no real changes within Bus Éireann."

Mr Dempsey said if Minister Ross did intervene, it could result in a similar situation arising two or three years down the line.

"The company, the unions and the management need to sit down and work this out."

He ruled out closing the semi-state body, saying the country needed a public transport system. However, he did say the Expressway routes didn't seem to be competitive, and the reason for this "needs to be established".

"There is no doubt that the Expressway service is the major problem", he said. 

Union reaction

Yesterday, the union representing Bus Éireann workers warned that other trade unions in the transport sector could be dragged into the ongoing dispute.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has said workers have been "thrown to the wolves" by the government and company management.

In a letter to unions, the company said it "will go out of business" without major changes - including restructuring.

In a statement last night SIPTU - the other major union representing Bus Éireann workers - confirmed that they have already attained a mandate for industrial action.