Transport unions were meeting today to decide whether to take strike action over plans to break up the Irish state-owned bus and rail company CIÉ.
And in a separate dispute, all trains in and out of two western counties were halted.
As union leaders gathered in Dublin, around 2,000 rail passengers from Mayo and Roscommon were forced to make alternative arrangements for the second consecutive Friday as the six drivers serving the line held a one-day stoppage.
The drivers, who operate out of Westport, are in dispute with Iarnód Éireann over a proposed €100 a week pay rise.
They also claim the company owes them €11,000 in back pay under the new nationally-agreed rostering arrangements.
The company is refusing to make payments without changes to the drivers’ roster. It claims these drivers work a 28-hour week compared with the 48-hour average week worked by all other drivers.
But the train drivers concerned have dismissed this and said their average working week is just under 40 hours. In a statement they rejected an offer of Labour Court talks and accused the company of attempting to “humiliate” them.
Meanwhile, union leaders have given a cautious welcome to new proposals from the transport minister regarding talks on the wider issue of the future of CIÉ.
National Bus and Railworkers Union general secretary Liam Tobin said his members would be studying a letter from the minister closely, but said it appeared to be a big step forward.
Union leaders had threatened a campaign of industrial action over Government plans to break up the CIÉ company into three separate parts and to privatise a number of bus routes.
But now Mr Brennan has offered to enter fresh talks with the unions, to be chaired by a third party.
The strike committee of the SIPTU union was already scheduled to meet today to decide whether to proceed with a mandate for strike action, but it is hoped this latest move by the Government may avert a crisis.