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Varadkar not pleased with new rule that allows ministers to use bus lanes

A change in law now allows ministers to use the bus lanes when they’re on official business. They were stripped of their State-supplied cars and Garda drivers in March.

Updated 3.15pm

THE TRANSPORT MINISTER Leo Varadkar has reiterated his distaste at legislation that allows cabinet ministers to drive in bus lanes.

The Irish Mail on Sunday reports today that the cabinet has “secretly” changed the law to allow cars carrying ministers to cut journey times by using the bus lane.

The Dáil was formally notified about the new legislation – which was signed off on by Minister Varadkar – on 20 October, but formal approval was not required. It’s within the Minister’s power to make changes unilaterally, and the Dáil is merely informed.

However, the Mail on Sunday reports that Vardakar wrote a handwritten objection on the official documentation, saying that he was in opposition to the change.

Minister Varadkar told RTÉ’s News at One today that he understands the information was released as a result of a Freedom of Information request, and while he opposes the use of the bus lanes, he did not release the information into the public domain.

He also said that while he didn’t agree with allowing ministers to use the bus lanes, “you have to abide by the cabinet decision”.

In March the new government had decided that all but three members of the cabinet would have to supply their own cars and that they would lose their Garda drivers. The Taoiseach, the Tánasite and the Minister for Justice and Equality were to retain a State-supplied car and Garda driver. The move meant that most ministers were losing the right to drive in the bus lane.

The Mail on Sunday reports that Varadkar, along with some colleagues opposed demands to reinstate the privilege. However, it was reported in July that the cabinet had given themselves permission to drive in bus lanes, and that the perk had been agreed at the final cabinet meeting before the summer recess.

The new rules mean that ministers still have to abide by speed and parking restrictions, and that they can only use the bus lanes when they are on official business.

Asked how strongly he felt about the issue today Minister Varadkar replied:

A minister always has the option of resigning, but I certainly won’t be resigning over bus lanes.

More: Cabinet to lose ministerial Mercs and Garda drivers

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Emer McLysaght

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