September 14th 2009

 

While the sun shone in Clonmel last Friday afternoon over 200 Ring a Link passengers (part of the Rural Transport Programme) from Carlow, Kilkenny and South Tipperary gathered in the town centre to meet with some 15 local councillors and T.D’s.  Passengers from across the three counties led by Geraldine Dunne a Newcastle native, voiced their concerns at the recent proposals from An Bord Snip Nua to cut government spending on the Rural Transport Network completely.  Geraldine Dunne and Veronica Browne who are regular passengers on the Ring a link Service formed an action group and called the meeting in Clonmel last Friday to challenge the proposals made by An Bord Snip Nua.  Ring a Link is the largest Rural Transport Programme in the country covering Carlow Kilkenny and South Tipperary operating a door to door service in isolated rural areas they also operate a call centre using a high tech route management system, Ring a link operate almost 20 buses with over 200 trip options covering three counties each week. 

 

Geraldine Dunne and Veronica Browne came together to organise the protest meeting as they felt that a vital lifeline service that is used by some 5,000 registered passengers across the three counties would be disastrous to the local communities and more importantly to the existing passenger’s quality of life.  Many user’s rely on the service to complete basic needs like shopping for groceries and attending the doctor often these passengers are miles from a shop so the ring a link service is often the only available form of transport to them.  Geraldine Dunne who opened Friday’s meeting said “If the Ring a Link service was to cease completely it would cause serious devastation, isolation and loneliness to many of the passengers who’s lives have been transformed by the introduction of the service eight years ago”.  The service is used by a spectrum of different people ranging from pensioners using the service to obtain their pension to people with disabilities getting to and from work or college, provides transport enabling children in rural areas to attend school or people that are in isolated areas with no other mode’s of transport to get to the nearest town.

 

In attendance at the meeting on Friday were a large number of councillors and T.D’s from across Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary and Waterford.  Among the speakers were Mattie McGrath T.D, Michael O’Brien Chairman, Kilkenny Co.co, Deputy Tom Hayes T.D and Cllr Richie Molloy.  First to speak was Michael O’Brien Chairman from Kilkenny county council he offered his full support to the Rural Transport Programme and commented that it was a vital link for the community, he went on to say that “we might be divided on the pitch in Croke Park but the people of Kilkenny,Tipperary and Carlow are united in fighting to save the Ring a Link”.  Deputy Tom Hayes spoke about Fine Gael’s full support to the funding of the Rural Transport Programme and he called on Mattie McGrath and Fianna Fail to fully support the service also.  Mattie McGrath spoke about the budget projections for the department of Transport commenting that a large proportion of the budget had been allocated to Dublin Bus, he commented that Tipperary was the seen as the “poor relation” and often overlooked by the government.  He outlined his involvement with Ring a Link from the beginning he acknowledged and commended the benefits and the achievements of the service and committed his full support commenting that he believes that An Bord Snip Nua’s recommendations will not come into force.

 

Over 200 concerned passengers attended the meeting on Friday they were transported to the meeting by the Ring a Link buses via a convoy that passed through Clonmel town centre on Friday afternoon.  During the meeting the floor was open to make comments and ask questions to the speakers.  Many of the passengers took this opportunity to voice their concerns at the proposed cuts, clearly outlining the need for a public service as there is no alternative transport in many areas.  They also commended the service and praised the benefits of the Rural Transport programme including praise for the drivers and the staff at Ring a Link.

 

 

 

 

December 10th 2009

 

It is with a great sense of relief and happiness that it was commissioned in the budget on December 9th 2009 that the minister for Finance Brian Lenihan revealed that the Rural Transport Programme is not to be affected by any funding cuts.  The RTP will be continued in 2010 and that the budget will be retained at €11m for the year. 

 

It is important to acknowledge the huge amount of work, commitment and campaigning that has led to a successful result this week.  Most notably on our behalf, two determined passengers Geraldine Dunne and Veronica Browne worked tirelessly to rally the passenger support to keep the Ring a Link service in operation across the 3 counties.  On the 11th September they organised a protest meeting in Clonmel where over 200 passengers across the 3 counties turned out in support of Ring a Link.  Also attending the meeting were local council representatives, T.D’s and councillors from Carlow, Kilkenny and South Tipperary.  Thanks to all our passengers that participated in the meeting and showed their never ending support over the past six months, the McCarthy report recommendations to cut funding to the Rural Transport Programme has not been implemented.  We have our passengers and the public to thank for all their fantastic support and hard work on our behalf.

 

To read the Minister of Transports press release it is available on the following link or on the dept of Transports website.

www.transport.ie/pressRelease.aspx?Id=149

 

The full budget speech and information is available on:

www.budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2010/2010.aspx