Confirmation that an opposition TD who had previously criticised a rural bus scheme now supports it is a late but welcome development, Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon has said.
Deputy Heydon, who represents Kildare South, said he looked forward to constructive input and realistic proposals from those opposed to the Government’s pilot local-link bus scheme which is operating across the country.
Deputy Heydon was speaking after Michael Healy-Rae told the Dáil today [Weds] he was never against the rural bus scheme which began last year. “None of us criticised it,’ he said.
However during a Prime Time debate in 2018, Deputy Healy-Rae said the funding for the unique scheme “is not enough for one county, let alone the whole country….The buses are a load of nonsense.”
In December 2017, the same TD told the Irish Independent that the scheme was “a political ploy.”
“Politicians who support this are desperately trying to come with a sop.”
And today [Weds], Deputy Michael Healy-Rae told the Dáil neither he nor his brother Danny were ever against it the scheme which operates in 19 counties across up to 50 routes.
Deputy Heydon said those against the pilot scheme would be better off offering their own proposals for rural Ireland rather than criticising a new scheme that is working very well in many rural areas of the country.
“The road to Damascus is a long one but it seems that it is even longer for some Dáil deputies. Previously, the scheme was attacked as a ‘smokescreen’ and ‘cynical’ exercise while the drink-driving laws were progressing through the Oireachtas. It seems those opposed to the buses have finally run out of ideas to oppose it.
“Instead of trying to have one foot on each side of the issue or be a redundant hurler on the ditch, these politicians would be better off telling us what they would do for rural transport.
“We have a scheme in place that is attempting to overcome the challenges faced by an ever changing lifestyle in rural Ireland.
“In some areas it is working very well and it is up to those living in a locality to use the buses and ensure it becomes a viable and realistic transport model,” Deputy Heydon said.
“It is a step to improve services for people. It is by no means the final measure but it is a service that is well intended and proving to be beneficial,” he added.