6 November 2003 Edition
Brennan under fire at Dublin City Council
BY JOANNE CORCORAN
Transport Minister Séamus Brennan made an appearance at a Dublin City Council meeting last Monday, amid mounting criticism of his handling of the traffic crisis in the capital. The Minister's visit came 14 months after an invitation was issued by Sinn Féin Councillor Christy Burke, chair of the council's transport strategic policy committee. He requested Brennan's attendance when it became apparent that the volume of work being undertaken in the city to supposedly improve the transport situation was merely adding to congestion.
Dublin's population surge over the last ten years has significantly worsened the traffic crisis in the city. The decision of consecutive governments throughout the 1980s to refrain from building an underground rail network in the capital has resulted in a reliance on cars, buses and an insufficient train network.
Over two years ago, work began on a light rail system, the LUAS, and on the Port Tunnel, designed to take trucks off the main roads. However, the budget for the LUAS has been rising steadily, despite no obvious progress and earlier in the year it was revealed that the Port Tunnel could only take trucks and lorries of a certain height.
The Minister's department has claimed that it has invested over ?400 million in the rail system, but no new carriages have been added. And the departments promise to extend the city's motorways, has been put on permanent hold because of disputes, such as that in Carrickmines, as to where the roads will go.
On Monday evening, Burke was given the chance to question the minister first. He criticised the minister for the disruption being caused in the city, and also tackled him on several other issues causing concern.
Brennan had no substantial answers for the Sinn Féin group. His reply to most of the issues raised by Burke and Ellis was that he was "working on the situation".
He said that there were no plans to compensate businesses that had lost out because of LUAS, and that there was basically no progress with a Traffic Corps for Dublin. He also claimed that he was trying to engage in further negotiations with insurance companies, who have saved €180 million as a result of the penalty points.