Fury over ‘secret’ details of €36m CIÉ bailout

The “secret” details of the €36m bailout for CIÉ shows the Government has broken its promises on openness and transparency, according to private bus operators.

The Coach Tourism and& Transport Council (CTTC) wrote to Leo Varadkar, the transport minister, seeking details on where exactly the money is going and what other services have been cut to fund the bailout.

But the group is not satisfied with the “vague” response from the minister and said that, four weeks after the extra funding was provided, the public is still in the dark about how it will be spent.

In its last meeting before the summer recess, the Cabinet agreed to provide the extra subvention in order to ensure that CIÉ was adequately funded for the immediate future, and could “continue to provide a sufficient service to the travelling public”.

It is not clear to what extent the provision of services had been threatened prior to the extra funding being made available.

But Mr Varadkar said the financial position of the company has been deteriorating for some time.

He said CIÉ was “caught in a perfect storm of falling passenger numbers, rising fuel costs and up until yesterday reduced government subvention”.

CTTC chief executive Gerry Mullins said the timing of the announcement — one week after the Dáil closed for the summer — was timed to avoid public scrutiny.

“This Government promised openness and transparency, but it is engaged in the same old secret and misguided funding of CIÉ that we learned to expect from previous governments,” he said.

A spokesperson for Mr Varadkar said yesterday the Cabinet had not agreed to the funding until Jul 24.

“It could only be announced following the Government meeting and was announced that same afternoon,” he said.

Mr Varadkar, in his written response to the CTTC, told the private operators the allocation of the extra public service subvention is a matter for the National Transport Authority.

Asked what other areas of his department’s budget would be raided to fund the extra subvention, Mr Varadkar said: “There are savings on public transport programme, smarter travel/carbon reduction and sports and deferral of expenditure in the maritime sector and tourism product development.”

This answer was described as “vague” by the CTTC.

The minister’s spokes- person said that the provision of Public Service Obligation (PSO) services is “subject to contract between the companies and the NTA, so the allocation of the additional PSO subvention is a matter for the NTA”.

He said that as well as the areas outlined in the minister’s letter, funding would also be raised through the sale of non-core assets by CIÉ.


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