The decision by National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU ) to start four days of work stoppages next Sunday, August 24, will cause headaches for Mayo supporters travelling to Dublin for next Sunday’s All Ireland semi-final against Kerry in Croke Park. Mayo fans will face a similar issue four weeks later if James Horan’s men can overcome the Kingdom, with the NBRU having planned strike action on September 21, the day of the All Ireland football final.
Fine Gael TD for Mayo and chairperson of the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee, John O’Mahony, has this week appealed to Irish Rail employees to defer planned industrial action as it will seriously discommode thousands of GAA supporters as well as hundreds of tourists, and it will ultimately damage business. He said: “I am calling on Irish Rail employees to reconsider their position and to defer planned industrial action. The first day of the strike is scheduled for Sunday August 24, which is the day of the first All-Ireland football semi-final. Thousands of Mayo fans are relying on the train to make the journey to Dublin so they can support the team in Croke Park.”
The morning train to Dublin on match day is normally packed out for an All Ireland semi-final and Irish Rail regularly put on an extra special train service to cater for the numbers of supporters making their way to Dublin for the big game.
Mayo supporters, who will now have to drive to Croke Park, will also face delays on the route up on the day, with the annual Longford Marathon taking place on Sunday August 24, with the marathon starting on Main Street in the town heading out towards Tarmonbarry into the path of the match day traffic before looping back towards the town. The marathon will get under way with the walkers and ultra marathon competitors starting at 8.30am, wheelchair participants at 9.45am, and the full and half marathon competitors going under starters orders at 10am.
O’Mahony appealed to the NBRU workers to reconsider their actions, saying: “This year Irish Rail has seen a 2.7 per cent increase in journeys made; there were 18.3 million journeys in the first six months of this year as opposed to 17.8 million last year. This is extremely positive for the company and for the employees, but in order for this growth to continue, the public must view the service as reliable. As part of the agreement put forward by Irish Rail, a promise has been made that pay will be restored in 28 months, if the company continues to grow in this way. Business is better for Irish Rail this year because the economy is improving, but the reality of the situation is that they still incurred a loss of €147 million in the past six years, which is simply unsustainable.”
“Changes need to be made and I would ask Irish Rail workers to consider the implications of their planned action,” he added. “Strikes at this time will damage the public image of the company, they will encourage people to consider alternative forms of transport, and it will ultimately negatively impact the business. This will distance workers from a solution and will do nothing to protect jobs.”