Richard Bruton backs Shane Ross ahead of Dublin Bus crisis talks

Education Minister Richard Bruton has backed Shane Ross’s insistence the State must not become a “sugar daddy” to end the Dublin Bus strike, claiming it would be a “disaster” to hand over public money to resolve the dispute.

Mr Bruton spoke out on the situation just hours before Dublin Bus management and unions agreed to attend crisis talks today amid speculation the strike could be halted this week.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, the Fine Gael TD said that despite the strike — now in its fourth week — causing havoc to the capital, the Government has no intention of intervening in what is taking place.

And supporting Transport Minister and Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross’s comments on Thursday that he will not become a “sugar daddy” by handing over taxpayers’ money to resolve the stand-off, Mr Bruton said there are “very established reasons” for the stance.

Richard Bruton
Richard Bruton

“There will not be more money to resolve an industrial dispute. That is not the approach that a minister should take. That would be a disaster for very well established reasons,” Mr Bruton said. “Everyone has a right to request higher living standards, but it has to be done within the company’s capacity to manage those affairs.”

The comments came just hours before it emerged that Dublin Bus and representatives of the National Rail and Bus Union and Siptu are due to attend crisis Workplace Relations Commission talks on the strike action today.

While the NRBU and Siptu have made it clear the upcoming strike days tomorrow, Wednesday and during the All-Ireland Final replay on Saturday are at this stage still set to take place — in addition to 10 more days next month — there is growing Government expectation the industrial action could be resolved this week.

Mr Ross last night welcomed news of the talks, saying the groups involved need to be given “space to formulate an agreement that is fair and workable for both sides”.

Shane Ross
Shane Ross

The minister is due to meet with his Independent Alliance colleagues tomorrow after being criticised over his position to not intervene in the stand-off.

Speaking at a Dáil transport committee meeting last Thursday, Mr Ross insisted he will not ride in “on a white horse and shining armour with a cheque book”, to solve the strike.

He said both management and unions needed to resolve the strike action themselves, a comment that is believed to have been linked to concerns any state involvement could lead to future demands in rumoured Irish Rail and Bus Éireann difficulties.

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