Shane Ross

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Archive for the ‘Westlink Bridge and M50’ Category

M50 Directors Unmasked

WHO will be the first victim? Someone will soon go to jail for not paying a €3 toll fee on the M50. Come back, National Toll Roads, all is forgiven.

The smuggest AGM in Irish history will be held on Thursday. Tom Roche and Jim Barry of National Toll Roads will do a lap of honour in Dublin’s Westbury Hotel.

First, the duo wiped the State’s eye by buying the West-Link. Next, they crucified the M50 motorists. Finally, the Government took them off the pitch in an expensive buyout. Yet within weeks, the buyer has turned a triumph into a shambles. What a lucky escape for the NTR monopoly. The flak they took for so long has been deflected onto the State.

Did those of us who campaigned to dismantle the toll barriers win a hollow victory?

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M50 Fees And Fines

Many of you continue to sit in long lines trying to crawl along the M50 with thousands of other commuters. My cage rattling has obviously had some effect as they are about to remove the toll plaza that causes such frustration but they seem to have missed the point completely. They aren’t about to ease the suffering of the motorist commuter, prices are set to rise and fines introduced! Infuriated, I raised this in a special adjournment debate.

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Money, Money, Money, Must Be Funny, In The NRA’s World

DO you still doubt the hidden talents of all those sluggish state agencies?

You do? Go straight to the National Roads Authority (NRA) for reassurance.

Next, invoke the name Maurice O’Connell, the doyen of Irish economic folklore.

Last week a report ordered by the National Roads Authority (NRA) was leaked.The topic was the latest penal hike in toll charges at the M50. And what was in the report? (more…)

Government To Maintain Motorist’s Misery On M50

It seems that from next August, tolls on the M50′s Westlink will be raised from €1.90 to €3 for occasional users – a whopping 60% increase! I had thought that the battle had been won and that the State had bought out NTR for €600 million, €50 million per year until 2020. I thought that this had been done to let traffic flow freely and to relieve the misery of the motorist on the M50.

However, what has happened is that the government has bought out NTR’s interest so that the motorist, having been screwed by one monopoly, will now be screwed by the State in an even more crucial and acute way. The government should instead be concentrating on providing public transport alternatives to motorists. Here’s what I told the Seanad:

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Trinity Seanad Election 2007: Watch My Interview With Pat Kenny On The Late Late Show!

Watch my Late Late Show interview here, where I revealed my plans to undercut all the auctioneers with my new licence and where I offered NTR €10,000 to open up the Westlink toll bridge. They later told me to stuff my ten grand!

40 Interruptions, 17 Interjections, and 1 Irritated Minister

Last Wednesday, my good friend Martin Cullen was charged with steering the Roads Bill through the Seanad. His speech was heard without interruption. However, when I stood up to speak on the Bill, the Minister seemed a touch irritable.

What followed were some unprecedented scenes as the Minister proceeded to interupt me no less than 40 times, forcing the acting chair to appeal for restraint to the aggitated Minister no less than 17 times! Here are some of his more colourful interjections:
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So What has the Cabinet’s Clown Prince Really Bought for us with our €600m?

Back in 1987 Minister for Transport Martin Cullen’s predecessor, Padraig Flynn, sold a small – but pivotal – piece of land to National Toll Roads for €14m (in today’s terms). Last Tuesday, Martin bought it back for €600m which we will pay in annual instalments of €50m. The final figure will be nearer to a billion, when the cost-of-living clause is invoked by NTR.

So how did the Cabinet’s Clown Prince spin this humiliation into victory? Martin Cullen turned down RTE’s invitation to debate the deal with me on Morning Ireland last Wednesday (listen here). I appeared first and the Minister, in accordance with his demands, responded alone in studio.
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“You can Stuff your Ten Grand!”

You might remember that last month, I appeared on the Late Late Show to make what I thought was a tempting offer to National Toll Roads (watch here). As a Senator, I get an allowance for political campaigns. I used this allowance to send toll boss Jim Barry a cheque for €10,000, asking him to use it to open the West-Link barriers for a specified time.

The purpose? To test his unchallenged assertion that opening the West-Link barriers to traffic would make no difference. The cheque was sent to fund any loss of revenue to poor NTR.
Jim politely told me to stuff my 10 grand – and then he failed to return the cheque! I am still waiting…
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NTR: You know the ‘T’ Stands for Tolls!

Last week, National Toll Roads released their interim results. The statement was full of the language of “Bioverda, biofuels, Greenstar, Airtricity, ethanol and global warming.” Buried at the bottom, on page four, was a brief reference to the infamous West-Link toll bridge. A footnote. The toll road company is brushing the toll bridge out of its history!

Perhaps I am wrong, but I thought that National Toll Roads owned the East-Link toll bridge over the Liffey as well as the more catastrophic West-Link? Perhaps I am wrong, but surely NTR will operate the North-Link (Drogheda by-pass) from now until 2030? Perhaps I am wrong, but is NTR not the operator on the Waterford N25 now under construction? And why is it tendering for the Portlaoise bypass? Will its staff be sowing brown rice on the roadside?
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Late Late Show Interview

Watch my Late Late Show interview here, where I revealed my plans to undercut all the auctioneers with my new licence, my €10,000 offer to NTR to open up the Westlink, and some views on the upcoming election.