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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 20 June 2021

'We expected nothing more from the Blueshirts': Hundreds of bus drivers march through Dublin

Speakers repeatedly called on Shane Ross to take action to end the bitter dispute at the transport operator.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

TRADE UNIONS TAKING part in the strike at Bus Éireann staged a defiant protest outside the gates of the Dáil this afternoon. Speakers repeatedly called on Shane Ross to take action to end the bitter dispute at the transport operator.

The protest – which was attended by around 400 to 500 people, and which organisers said was put together at short notice – was timed to coincide with the Transport Minister’s testimony to an Oireachtas committee today.

Ross has repeatedly said he won’t intervene in the dispute. Speaking today he said he was keen to see the crisis resolved but that he would “not be dictating to management and unions about their internal issues”.

Uniformed Irish Rail and Dublin Bus workers also attended this afternoon’s march and protest, which made its way from Parnell Square to Kildare Street, where speeches were staged shortly before lunchtime.

Dermot O’Leary of the NBRU said it was curious that Ross claimed to be unable to get involved in the dispute – noting that he had seen fit to involve himself with a number of causes that had nothing to do with his transport portfolio, including judicial appointments and the campaign to reopen Stepaside Garda Station, which is located in his south Dublin constituency.

“He certainly fulfilled his step aside in terms of being Minister for Transport,” O’Leary said, to cheers.

O’Leary said that he expected “nothing more” from Ross, or “the Blueshirts”.

5879 Strikes_90507080 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

He went on to call out other members of Ross’s Independent Alliance grouping, including John Halligan, Finian McGrath, Sean Canney and Kevin Boxer Moran.

“Hang your heads in shame,” O’Leary said.

The strike centres on a dispute between workers and management at the semi-State company, with the latter claiming that its worsening financial situation requires cuts and changes to employee contracts.

Bus Éireann told employees last week that it would introduce these cost-saving measures without agreement, and unions announced an all-out strike which began at midnight on Thursday last.

5851 Strikes_90507089 Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin and Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae speak to protesters. Source: Sam Boal

111 Shane Ross_90507091 Shane Ross Source: Oireachtas TV

Steve McKelvey, chairman of the Cork branch of the NBRU, said he was disappointed Shane Ross hadn’t come out to address drivers today.

“It will only be resolved when there’s talks [...] but nobody seems to want to talk,” he told TheJournal.ie.

The NBRU and other unions would resist any attempts to try and reinvent the company as a “low cost operation,” McKelvey said.

Workers were not prepared to “give away,” the progress they had made in the last number of decades, he insisted.

There had been concerns there would be disruption to Dublin Bus and to rail services today, if union members decided to attend the Kildare Street protest.

Services were running as normal however – although there were diversions to buses in Dublin due to the march taking place.

Dublin Bus and Irish Rail workers are set to be balloted next week for industrial action – part of a solidarity move.

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Daragh Brophy

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