Fianna Fáil Seanad Leader and Spokesperson on Finance, Senator Darragh O’Brien, has called on the Minister for Transport to confirm if there will be price increases at CIE this year.
Senator O’Brien was responding to yesterday’s cabinet approval of a €36 million injection of funds into CIE because of a deficit in the state-run company. He said that hard pressed commuters have already faced big hikes in fares this year, and should not be squeezed any further.
Senator O’Brien commented: “It is all well and good for Minister Leo Varadkar to give €36 million to CIE to plug a hole in its books, but a lot of questions need to be answered. Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus have all reported falling passenger numbers, yet the Minister has allowed massive price hikes.
“Despite acknowledging that increased prices means less passenger numbers, the Minister refuses to rule out further prices increases in CIE this year. I find that incredible.
“The €36 million cash injection will result in cuts to other areas within his department. Yet the Minister refused to reveal what areas will be affected. This is not acceptable. Community groups depending on such funding need certainty and the Minister needs to stop evading the questions. I would be particularly concerned if sports capital funding is delayed to plug a hole in CIE’s books.”
Senator O’Brien also pointed out that the Minister has done a U-turn on price increases since he entered Government:
“When he was in opposition Minister Varadkar hit out at fare increases; this seems to have changed now he is in Government.
“This whole episode has revealed a lack of planning, and a lack of understanding of the most basic economics. The Minister must acknowledge that commuters have been squeezed enough, and he must rule out any further fare hikes.”