Muintir na Tíre, the National Association for Community Development, has issued a broad welcome for the new pilot rural transport programme extension.

Muintir na Tíre National President, Michael Sweeney said “For many years, Muintir has lobbied for improved local transport. In our recent Save Rural Ireland campaign, the lack of public transport was identified as a clear structural deficit in rural Ireland. We therefore welcome the new pilot scheme. We hope it will produce positive findings, and lead to an extended and improved scheme.”

CEO, Niall Garvey added, “Without adequate public transport, people in rural Ireland cannot travel to access services. This is vital when those services are being withdrawn from their own communities. This deficit also leads to social isolation, particularly for those who do not have access to private transport or affordable public transport. The elderly, and those on limited income, are particularly hard hit.”

“The new pilot programme will help greatly with the social isolation element, as it operates at weekend evenings. Serving pubs is part of the service, but it is not the entirety. These new services can be used by people who wish to attend an event, eat a meal, or simply socialise with friends.”
“By its nature, a pilot programme is small and is not sufficient to address the problem fully. However, we hope the results will be assessed positively and will lead to a full roll-out next year.”

“It is important that people use this service where it is available. It is also important it be made available in other areas. There are several counties that did not apply for the scheme, for whatever reasons. However, the Minister has indicated he remains open to further applications in the coming days so we hope these counties will apply. It will be important to have a spread of services around the country when the pilot is being assessed.”