Thursday, 16 April 2015
Order of Business
I express my sympathies to the Buckley family from Mourneabbey in County Cork at this very stressful time and endorse the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade's expression of thanks to the Glasgow police force for their assistance in this regard.
I thank Senator Leyden for his remarks about the bus situation. I think the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport will be here later on today. Tendering is a good idea. I recall how during the 1980s, there was one bus per day between Dublin and Galway. It went around by Mullingar in case a person was in a hurry. There are now 60 buses run by three different operators. The bus business can develop. The alternative is that we continue with the block grant, which is not related to anything. Having some competitive tendering, which as the Taoiseach noted in the Dáil yesterday, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus might very well win, puts it on a better basis. I am sure the bus is, as Senator Hayden noted, the work horse of public transport. It is growing very rapidly in some aspects, particularly since the motorways were built and in light of access to airports. I echo Senator Leyden's hope that a strike does not happen on 1 May.
Members of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications have been invited to hear a presentation on 28 April 2015 on the implementation of the national postcode system. It comes as a surprise because the committee has been hearing evidence on that. I do not see any benefits to An Post, which already has 98% next day delivery rate. That is pretty efficient by any standards. Many private sector people, notably, Tommy Carr, who is well known in GAA circles, have said that the system adopted is not the one they want. There is a smaller number of dissenters who would operate it. The cost could be up to €30 million and I do not know what the benefits are supposed to be. One hears statements about improved efficiency and accuracy of internal business. A figure of 98% is pretty accurate. We hear about improved efficiencies with regard to logistics. Again, 98% is not bad. We also hear about better planning and analysis capabilities and enabling organisations to improve existing services. If it is not a problem, why are we spending so much money on it? As a Member of the House with constituents in Northern Ireland and the Republic, I can say that it is far easier to write a letter to somebody in Clones because the post office knows where Clones is than to try to remember what the codes in digits are for Newtownbutler, which is only down the road. It is just an added nuisance. This has been around for ten years in the Department through four Ministers - Noel Dempsey, Eamon Ryan and Deputies Pat Rabbitte and Alex White - and I think it is time to scrap it. It has been around so long and has worn out Ministers who tried to get the thing properly evaluated. I do not see any measure of benefits. The safety and security sector, which it is supposed to benefit, also has doubts about it. What is the problem if 98% of the post is already being delivered the next day? Why spend more money and disrupt an entire system unnecessarily when, as we saw in debates last night, we have far worthier things to spend money on?