Tuesday, 14 May 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I echo the remarks made by my colleague, Senator Murnane O'Connor, about unmanned train stations. It is not only a feature of rural Ireland as many of the railway stations in Dublin have been unmanned for quite a long time. That has led to a degree of anti-social behaviour at those stations because the person who manned the station acted as an early-warning signal. He or she could see what was happening at the station, who was getting on the train and if there was a problem. A passenger could step off the train and tell the person manning the station of a problem happening on a train. We need to be cautious. The Government is working out the cost of everything and the value of nothing. There is real value in manning railway stations.
I wish to raise a matter close to the Leader's heart. I welcome the Cork area transport strategy that was announced today. It has the potential to change Cork for the better over the coming decade but I have slight concerns. I hope the National Transport Authority, NTA, has learned lessons from community engagement in Dublin. Many people from the Labour Party in Cork have been on to me today voicing their support but they also want an extension of the consultation period which currently runs until 28 June. Cork is in the middle of local and European election campaigns and a plebiscite about whether there will be a directly-elected mayor for Cork. Those Labour Party representatives feel it would benefit the city if the consultation period was extended. I echo their calls and ask the Leader to engage with the Minister to see if he will extend the consultation period. The citizens of Cork need to have ownership of the transportation plan for the city. They need an opportunity to input their ideas. I hope we do not end up in conflict with communities as has been the case in Dublin.
Consultation can be done well and properly. An extension to the consultation period at this stage would benefit any transport strategy for the city.