Seanad debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

1:00 pm

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)

On behalf of the Fianna Fáil Group, I ask that we be associated with the sympathies for that wonderful public representative, John O'Mahony. We express our deepest sympathies to his family, community and the Fine Gael Party.

I add my voice of welcome to my good friend and colleague, Councillor Noel Heavey, his wife Bernie and his four best canvassers in the local elections, Molly, Mary, Rose, James and Chris, who went out to support their grandad every day. They did a wonderful job. It is great to have the opportunity to say that to them.

We have had democracy in action in our two nearest neighbours, the UK and France. While we have some clarity in terms of the way forward in the UK, there is anything but clarity in France. No matter what happens, we hope that those who are in positions of power will hold fast to the true values of democracy and social justice.

I refer to the issue of fairer fares. The Cathaoirleach has heard me speak ad nauseam about commuter fares in south Kildare and the need to have balance between fares beyond short hop zones. After a long campaign, we were happy to see fairer fares announced. In respect of Newbridge, it was expected that the fare would drop by 45%, along with a drop of 37% for Kildare town, which is important for commuters. This was due to be implemented next September, with implications for towns in Meath and Wicklow, as well as Drogheda. I was gutted to hear not from the NTA but another source that this will not now be implemented this year and the change will not happen until 2025. In areas where fares were adjusted upwards, changes were introduced in June. I cannot understand why, therefore, we would have to wait until the following year for a reduction in fares.

I spoke to then Minister for transport, Deputy Jack Chambers, about two weeks ago. September was on the horizon at that point. There was an NTA briefing about three weeks ago and we understood nothing had changed. I cannot understand what has changed. I have written to the NTA and the new Minister, my Kildare colleague, Deputy James Lawless, to ask for a meeting on this. This is an important issue. We should take it up. I would like to have an opportunity to bring the Minister to the Chamber and discuss this.

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