Mr Ó CuÍv if you could follow me please... Just a little further... Right here you are. Isn’t it a lovely little cottage?
What’s that? No, there’s no petrol station up the road, but sure you’ve no car so you won’t be needing petrol.
Huh? No, no car, no shop, no post office.
Bus stop? Train station? Ah now Cuívy boy, you know well there’s no public transport around here. This is the Midlands after all. You’re in the country now. No taxis for you mate.
Stop that crying, would ya.
Now you have to stay here and have a good think about what you’ve done. You’re from the West, Cuívy, you should be only too aware about isolation.
And no I don’t think your granddad would be too impressed with you right now.
For someone with roots in the West (of Galway ) and as a Minister for Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs, you’d think Eamon Ó Cuív would be sympathetic to the people of nowhere-land. But then again he was born and educated in Dublin, with all its lovely forms of public transport and taxis available 24 hours a day.
Transport in rural areas is a touchy subject. Everything is directed east or west around here. Just try and get a bus to Athlone from Mullingar, and you’ll see how easy it is. And if you want to take the train, forget about it unless your destination is on the Dublin to Galway or Sligo line.
As for taxis, I think Moate has three, and if you’d looking to get home after a night out you better have had them booked three weeks in advance, the wait is that long!
And now Ó Cuív has decided to end funding for evening transport services in seven rural areas across the country, including Roscommon and Laois. This decision is devastating news for those who live in some of the most isolated parts of the country, especially older people. Age Action has come out against Ó Cuív’s decision, saying that it shares the dismay of other rural organisations at the decision of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to end the funding for the seven pilot projects from July 10.
It may not sound like the biggest deal in the world, but rural transport is a very important thing, espicially for older people who don’t have their own cars or anyone to bring them to the nearest village or town.
Stopping or downscaling these services is just highlighting again the feeling that the Government cares little for the elderly or anyone who lives in rural areas. If you’re not from a thriving city or large town you have no voice.
Now that we have our brand new councillors full of enthusiasm, it’s time to get them to work. We need to work from a grassroots level up to protect what little resources we have and to grow our communities and protect ourselves.