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Dublin: 1 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019


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Hello there, Christina Finn here to take you through Leaders’ Questions today. 

Well, it’s D-Day for Enda Kenny today who is expected to address his parliamentary party later on this evening. 

He is keeping his cards close to his chest. Some expect to hear a timeline, others say he will put up a fight. We’ll have to wait and see. First, he has to deal with Leaders’ Questions. 

Stay with us.

Enda Kenny hasn’t said much about his intentions, only that he will address his party members later today.

The general mood here in Leinster House is that Kenny could say anything. He could be very specific or he could be very vague.

Fine Gael TDs and senators will just have to sit tight and wait to hear what he has to say.


And we’re off.

Micheál Martin is up. “We are on the verge of a major transport strike,” he says.

He accuses the government of sitting on its hands over the last few years when it comes to dealing with Bus Eireann.

“The workers have to bear the entire brunt,” says Martin.

Transport Minister Shane Ross is hiding, according to the Fianna Fáil leader who says Ross is hiding behind the industrial relations fig leaf.

He says there should not be a race to the bottom when trying to find a solution. He urges Minister Ross to engage with the negotiations.

“It is a very disappointing situation that talks have broken down,” says Kenny.

He says the Expressway is a private operation – and is now outlining the difficulties the company is in.

The breakdown in talks could have terrible consequences now for the public, says Kenny.

He mentions that Ross wants all the machinery of the State to be used to solve the issues at play with Bus Eireann. He says there are “false rumours” that the free pass will be taken away.

Martin says the government were “politically hands off” with Bus Eireann ahead of the general election.

He says it is a meaningless phrase to say that Minister Ross has been in touch with Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar – “what does that mean?”

Martin says Ross has “stood back” and allowed “chaos to prevail”.

The Taoiseach says rural development is key to the government, as is rural transport.

“There is no threat to their services,” clarifies Kenny, who states again, that the National Transport Authority will step in if necessary.

Kenny says the nub of the problem is the Expressway service.

Gerry Adams is up now. He is also talking about how people in rural Ireland rely on Bus Eireann.

He says if strike goes on or routes are cut, people who do not drive will simply have to stay at home.

Adams says the main question here is if the Taoiseach thinks transport is a right.

adams 44

Adams says the minister needs to engage with all the stakeholders immediately.

The Taoiseach points out again the commercial end of Bus Eireann is not subsidised by the taxpayer.

He denies that nothing is being done in relation to rural Ireland.

Kenny says the rural transport links programme is “particularly strong”. He says he has pulled together all departments to work on developing rural Ireland.

Oh there goes someone’s phone….

Adams is on his feet again, and says this all comes a decade after under-investment.

He says it all comes down to rights. “Your record on public services is disgraceful,” says Adams.

Adams says that will be his legacy.

Pointing out that Kenny’s time as leader is coming to an end, Adams says:

“You’ve done your time.. isn’t it always best to leave things better than as you found it.”

Labour’s Brendan Howlin also wants to talk about industrial unrest.

He tells the Taoiseach that he raised the issue of Bus Eireann a few weeks back. He says it has festered since.

I believe they [management] are trying to bypass the industrial relations of the State.

enda 55

“You in government are not mere bystanders,” says Howlin.

He wants the minister to stop being “a bystander” and to get involved.

Kenny says government are not bystanders and says they have increased the subvention.

“No one wants to see hundreds of thousands of commuters discommoded… it has to be sorted.”

Howlin says industrial peace has to be well-tended to and says unrest in workplaces does not just appear during a recovery.

Kenny says he did not say that. He says when an economy improves peoples’ expectations rise.

“It is a fact expectations rise… the situation has to be where can you discuss the question of a common base… it is using the machinery of the State.”

The Taoiseach says a unit citation was held by minister Keogh for their heroism and professionalism.

Grealish says 5th year students in Galway Community College have been pushing for the men to be honoured.

Kenny says he will look at it and talk to the Defence Forces chief of staff. Although he says he could not give guarantees.

“I want a firm commitment that you will right a wrong,” says Grealish.

He says he hopes the Taoiseach has seen the movie and he hopes he will return to the House with some positive news.

The Taoiseach says the issue as to why they were not awarded medals in the first instance needs to be looked at.

“I will have that looked at… it wasn’t an easy time and they showed exceptional courage when in the line of fire.”

That’s it for Leaders’ Questions today, join us back here tomorrow.