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Monday, July 19, 2010

Double speaking Greens go dumb on rail closure.

When the Irish Times contacted Minister Ciaran Cuffe about the possibility of closing the Rosslare Waterford rail line the Minister was unavailable to speak to the journalist other than to say that the matter was one for Iarnród Éireann alone. 2 days before he was appointed a minister, Ciaran Cuffe said that if a socio economic case for retention existed he’d listen to it. Now that doesn’t mean that he’d commit to retaining it he only said he’d listen to it. When Ciaran was nominated I sent him a copy of a report on the line asking that he’d respond, 3 months later I’m still waiting despite assurances from local greens that he’d contact me.

Lets face it Fianna Fail have the greens round their little finger. The core green issues such as Stag Hunting and puppy farming don’t wash with the electorate, Fianna Fail will happily let their junior partner “progress” these issues to keep them onside while Fianna Fail get on with running the country for their developer, banker and business buddies.
The Greens of course understand this and are happy to keep their heads down until issues like the Rosslare Waterford rail line turn up and show them up now for what they once said. Here’s Dan Boyle in 2007; “Sinister decisions relating to rail freight have been made in recent years. For example, in my constituency, the freight hub in Cork depends on the Norsk facility, which has been put up for sale. In recent years, the rail turntable, which allowed freight trains to change direction, because Cork is a terminus, was dismantled. This was an attempt to disentangle the rail freight infrastructure.” How right he was so what is he doing about returning freight to rail?

Ciaran Cuffe when he was in opposition knew exactly what had to be done; Green Party 2007 Rail Transport Policy “We must allow the regions to develop their economic and social potential. We believe that the Island's rail network should be used as a basis for informing the location of significant new development over the next twenty years." “urban generated rural settlement and low-density suburban development appears to be increasing, and this pattern needs to be reversed. It is unsustainable to provide large numbers of on-off houses and ribbon development in the country-side. We must revive our rural areas, but we do not wish to see people commuting long distances by car to our towns and cities.”

Minister Mary White could tell us last year that “The Government has a commitment to investment in public transport, another form of environmentally friendly infrastructure. Almost €1 billion is being spent this year on public transport projects and the safeguarding of future public transport projects will ensure jobs are sustained and that our travelling and commuting trends will be sustainable.” So where is that money for the South Wexford line now? The line qualifies for EU funding towards upgrading as I and Nessa Childers discovered at our meeting with the EU in June. Look even if you buy the Iarnród Éireann line that there is no market for passengers what about freight?

I’m aware of a real plan to put freight on the line. Not a word in support from the greens, surprising as in 2007 Dan Boyle knew what to do; “the next Government should at the very least seek to achieve the same balance between road and rail freight as other European countries, which is 77% by road and 23% by rail. A timeframe of ten years should be set down to achieve that. It will mean investment and a reversal of policy “ Have you seen a change in policy in the last 3 years? But wait there’s more from Dan “Ports such as Rosslare, Waterford, Foynes and Cork should be used more because they have rail links, which could be connected to the national system, thereby providing for more freight to be carried. The State should move away from a radial rail system, which comprises only lines in and out of Dublin, and restore the remnants of the rail system.”

That was then and this is now. The silence of any green TD to speak out on this issue in the last 3 months speaks volumes n how suppliant the party has become. Call it Stockholm Syndrome or urban Gombeenism the greens are wrapping themselves up in knots. They’re entitled to do it but the reality is that the Rosslare Waterford rail line is gong off the tracks because of their attitude. So if you’re wondering where the money should come from to support lines like the Rosslare Waterford line I’ll leave the final word to Dan Boyle from one of his newsletters in 2007; In Government we will redress the chronic under investment in bus, rail, cycling and pedestrian facilities and we will redirect the roads budget to improve road safety and traffic management.

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