Bus Éireann: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Robert Troy on Tuesday, 31 January 2017:
That Dáil Éireann:
recognises that:
- Bus Éireann is in serious financial difficulties with reported losses of €5.3 million in 2016, and greater projected losses in 2017;
- Bus Éireann has said that the company’s finances are in a ‘perilous state’ and that this could lead to job losses unless restructuring proposals are accepted;
- a major contributor to the falling revenues has been the commercial services which have struggled to compete with new market entrants in recent years;
- the company cannot continue to operate in its current loss making position which is depleting its reserves and that without action the company could face liquidity and solvency issues within the next 24 months; and
- any subsidisation of losses of the commercial operations of Bus Éireann, which competes with private enterprises, would likely encounter European Union competition and state aid issues;
acknowledges:
- that the report by Grant Thornton faults the Expressway services for the significant losses and recommends the possibility of significant reductions in Expressway services, up to and including Bus Éireann exiting these operations altogether;
- that such action would result in Bus Éireann shutting down many of its key routes serving large swathes of the country, leaving many areas in between big towns and cities with no direct Expressway services to Dublin or other cities and this cannot be considered acceptable;
- the fact that this is being considered as a potential option is creating huge uncertainty and fear and is evidence of the neglect of rural Ireland by the Government; and
- the need for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Government to act urgently to prevent the possibility of nationwide industrial action of the public transport services; and
calls on the Government to:
- commit to the importance of a public sector transport network that is adequately funded;
- take more determined actions to secure the future of Bus Éireann services nationwide and use its powers as a stakeholder to ensure that there are no changes to the Expressway service and that restructuring plans are agreed with workers and not imposed unilaterally;
- increase funding to Bus Éireann for free travel passengers as well as examining whether additional routes should be added to the public service obligation contract;
- review the route licensing system, in conjunction with the National Transport Authority, NTA, to ensure wider concerns such as those regarding rural isolation or whether competition is sustainable on a route are included in decisions as to whether to grant or refuse bus route licenses to operators; and
- introduce legislation to give the NTA greater licensing powers to approve or reject route amendments by Bus Éireann and private operators.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 4:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
recognises that:
- Bus Éireann is in serious financial difficulty;
- Bus Éireann has stated the company’s finances are in a "perilous state" and that this could lead to job losses unless restructuring proposals are accepted;
- a major contributor to the falling revenues has been the commercial services which have struggled to compete with new market entrants in recent years;
- the company cannot continue to operate in its current loss-making position which is depleting its reserves and that without action the company could face imminent liquidity and solvency issues; and
- any subsidisation of losses of the commercial operations of Bus Éireann which competes with private enterprises would likely encounter European Union competition and state aid issues;
acknowledges:
- that an analysis commissioned by the company identifies the commercial Expressway services as the source of significant losses and recommends consideration of the reconfiguration of certain Expressway services;
- the fact that this is being considered as a potential option is creating some uncertainty and fear; and
- the need for the company and trade unions to negotiate on changes to prevent the possibility of industrial action in a company that provides important public transport services; and
calls on the Government to:
- commit, while taking cognisance of the overall budgetary parameters, to the importance of an adequately funded public service obligation, PSO, transport network;
- review the adequacy of current funding levels associated with the free travel scheme, as well as examining whether additional routes should be added to the PSO contract;
- request that the National Transport Authority, NTA, continue to exercise its statutory powers to ensure that PSO services are adequate to serve the needs of rural Ireland, in the event that there are changes to Expressway services in the future; and
- bring forward amendments to the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009, taking account of the review of such legislation by the NTA and necessary improvements to strengthen public transport services to the consumer.
- (Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding Bus Éireann. On Tuesday, 31 January 2017, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed, and in accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 52; Níl, 82; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Regina Doherty and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Michael Moynihan and John Lahart.
Amendment declared lost.

Is amendment No. 3 being pressed?

I move amendment No. 3:

(a) To insert the following after “struggled to compete with new market entrants in recent years;”:

“ — Bus Éireann’s commercial service, Expressway, has suffered from falling revenues in part due to saturation of the market owing to poor licencing practice by the National Transport Authority;” and

(b) To insert the following after “amendments by Bus Éireann and private operators”:

“— demonstrate leadership by agreeing to intervene in the crisis and recommend to Bus Éireann management that proposed cost-cutting measures are set aside to allow for negotiations between all stakeholders;

— commit to carrying out and publishing a full review of operations of the Expressway service and the Expressway market;

— commit, in conjunction with the NTA, to carry out and publish a review of loss-making routes on which private carriers currently operate, including the number of private licences issued on these routes, when these licences were issued and when these routes ceased to make a profit due to oversaturation, and to provide for the NTA to review the renewal of such licences that are making a loss; and

commit to publishing details of routes and services that have been identified for potential closure.”

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 92; Staon, 0.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Imelda Munster and Aengus Ó Snodaigh; Níl, Deputies Michael Moynihan and John Lahart.
Amendment declared lost.

Is amendment No. 1 being pressed?

I move amendment No. 1:

To insert the following after “Bus Éireann and private operators”:

- ensure a level playing field for all operators, avoid a race to the bottom and safeguard the interests of workers by committing to a sectoral employment order setting out minimum pay rates, as well as pension and sick pay schemes for employees across the sector.

Amendment put.

In view of the fact the Fianna Fáil Party is not nominating tellers, and having regard to Standing Order 72, when one party fails to provide tellers, it is considered that the proposal is carried. I deem amendment No. 1 carried.

Amendment declared carried.

I move amendment No. 2:

To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:

“recognises that:

— Bus Éireann’s financially parlous state arises in large measure from the legacy of a cut to the State subsidy which in 2016 was still €12 million less than 2009 levels;

— this has been further compounded by a financial contribution from the Department of Social Protection for free travel that is completely inadequate when approximately 30% of all passengers availed of free travel in 2016;

— the absence of an employment regulation order for the coach sector, the proliferation of licences issued by the National Transport Authority for inter-city routes and the absence of a proper inspectorate into the running of private coach operations has fuelled a ‘race to the bottom’ based on the more intensive exploitation of workers;

— the workers, from whom a cut in take home pay of up to 30% is being demanded under threat of the closure of the company, are blameless for the financial position of Bus Éireann;

— the performance of an adequately funded comprehensive inter-city and rural bus network cannot be discerned from its balance sheet but by the connectivity it provides for rural communities and the elderly, the reduction of carbon emissions and easing traffic congestion; and

— the position of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Government on the Bus Éireann dispute runs contrary to the aspirations they claim are enshrined in the Action Plan for Rural Ireland;

calls on the Government to:

— commit to the importance of a public sector transport network that is adequately funded;

— reverse the cuts in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport subsidy, as a first step, and increase the Department of Social Protection contribution towards the free travel commensurate with the patronising of Bus Éireann by those entitled to free travel;

— not apply any charge towards the free travel pass on the elderly and other vulnerable groups; and

— introduce an employment regulation order for the bus sector with pay and conditions no lower than those currently enjoyed by Bus Éireann workers; and

views strike action by the workers as an entirely appropriate response to the actions of Bus Éireann management and commits to support them in their struggle to save their jobs, pay and conditions.”

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 37; Níl, 97; Staon, 1.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Mick Barry and Gino Kenny; Níl, Deputies Michael Moynihan and John Lahart.
Amendment declared lost.
Motion, as amended, put and agreed to.