Fianna Fáil TD for Clare, Timmy Dooley has said that the roll out of improved rural transport links in the county can keep small villages and communities alive and vibrant.

Deputy Dooley was commenting after raising the need for enhanced public transport connectivity in Clare with the Minister for Transport during a special Dáil Topical Issues debate.

“We know that Bus Éireann runs a number of services through the county on a daily basis, but we need to look at how we can connect smaller feeder villages to Ennis, Shannon and Limerick City.

“Towns and villages such as Scarrif, Feackle and Killaloe need better commuter links to these towns to allow their residents get to work on time or do their business.

“All too often rural transport plans focus on supporting people to socialise in the evening, but ignore the needs of students, workers and older people who need to be able to travel to larger towns and cities for work, study or hospital appointments.

“The Minister, in his reply to me, indicated that the National Transport Authority is currently in the process of developing new timetables for the 333 and 336 routes from West Clare to Ennis. We need to see these services significantly enhanced to allow commuters get to work on time.

“On an equally positive note, I am led to believe that Rural Link Clare is seeking to improve and extend two routes – the Ballyvaughan to Lisdoonvarna service as well as the Ennis to Kilmurrymacmahon via Dildysart service.

“This is positive news, and news that I welcome. However, more is needed if we are to connect Clare communities in the way that’s needed. Linking smaller, more isolated communities to our larger towns is critical if we are to keep them vibrant.

“Regularly, I hear of people being forced to relocate to the larger towns and leave their home communities because of the dearth of public transport options. This needs to end if we are to keep our small villages alive and vibrant,” concluded Dooley.