The Minister for Transport and the National Transport Authority (NTA) have been asked to explain to a local authority what they intend to do to provide better public transport to rural communities which are 'dying on their feet'.
Cork County Council has passed a motion seeking clarity from Shane Ross and the NTA on their plans, if any, to provide increased public transport connections to rural areas.
Cllr Bob Ryan won overwhelming support from colleagues when he proposed the motion, claiming that city and town dwellers are getting a far better State-subsidised service, whereas rural communities are losing out.
He Cllr Ryan said recent legislation introduced by Mr Ross – such as lowering the drink driving limit and outlawing L-drivers driving unaccompanied – is having a far bigger impact in rural areas because of the lack of public transport serving them: “They're treated in a completely different way from those living in towns and cities. Unless we fight for these people this bias will continue.
Cllr Gearoid Murphy said “a big part of why rural Ireland is dying is because of the lack of decent public transport". He pointed out that the “bustling” village of Grenagh, just a few miles north of Cork City, has “effectively no proper bus service".
“To say the minister is biased against rural Ireland is putting it mildly. Pubs in every village are being locked up, or being put up for sale. There were seven or eight pubs in Ballineen/Enniskeane, it's down to one or two now," Cllr Joe Carroll said.
Cllr Danny Collins claims rural “people are now locked into their homes” and that “Minister Ross has forgotten rural Ireland".
Cllr Bernard Moynihan noted that he represents the most rural part of County Cork - Duhallow. He suggested there should be grants for taxi services in rural areas and grants should also be provided to keep pubs open.
“We're talking about the future survival of rural Ireland. The minister should provide local taxi services, to be run by community councils,” Cllr Frank O'Flynn said.
Cllr Susan McCarthy said Ireland still has a 40% rural population, which is less than in France, where she once lived. But she said public transport in rural areas in France is far superior.