This story Here, in The Irish Times, is illustrative of the state of Irish politics today, in that you have all the key factors of the dysfunctional nature of Irish Politics:
1. A group of people angry at the withdrawal of a publicly funded/subsidised service. Well, some of them probably are. Given their references to privatisation, a large number are surely the Usual Left Suspects. But let’s assume that there is public disquiet too.
2. A state body, funded by the taxpayer and user fees, i.e. bus fares.
3. A deficit caused by a) a decline in the use of the service, b) possible cuts in exchequer subsidies, and c) funds being spent within the organisation on things other than providing the primary services, ie terms and conditions of the employees of said service.
In short, as with 90% of issues in Irish politics, it’s about money, and who pays.
So, who should pay?
The bus users, through additional fees? Probably unfair to dump the whole cost on them. After all, non-bus users also benefit from the existence of the bus service, as it reduces the number of cars.
The Rich. No doubt this is the answer of the People’s Front of Judea. The easy solution to every problem.
Dubliners? This is probably the fairest solution. An income tax levy on taxpayers living in Dublin to close the gap in Dublin Bus’s deficit. An unpopular idea? Almost certainly, but why? Because we have been brought up in a political culture to believe that someone else will always pay for stuff we want? That’s what has us where we are today. But let’s be fair about it. Let’s ask the voters of Dublin to vote on it, on the same day as the presidential election.
If they vote to accept the levy, fair enough. If they vote not to, we cut bus services accordingly. The people will have spoken, deciding what they want to do with their money.