THE Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Cork TD Bernard Allen has described suggestions by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey that road tolls be expanded to include the Jack Lynch Tunnel and a several other roads up and down the country as “an insult to middle Ireland”.
Deputy Allen said that any such proposals would rightly be seen by the working people of Ireland as a slap in the face and further evidence that Government aims to force the Irish people to bail them out following the excesses of Fianna Fáil and their friends in the banks and the property sector.
Deputy Allen said, “This proposal must be nonsense as even Fianna Fáil cannot be so stupid to think the Irish people would stand for it. This really would be a step too far, to make people pay even more to use their cars when the vast majority have no other option and at a time when people are desperately trying to hold on to whatever employment they have.
“To deliberately make it more difficult to get by for the very people the country is depending on would be an insult to middle-Ireland and a slap in the face for anyone trying to hold on to a job who needs to drive to get to it.
“I suspect the only reason Minister Dempsey is floating this idea is to soften us up for yet more hikes in fuel duty, which if it is the case, is an exercise so cynical that it’s hard to believe that even he would engage in it. Any attempt to dress this up as an environmental proposal should be laughed at loudly for the nonsense it is.
“It has long been argued that the Jack Lynch Tunnel cannot be tolled due to its proximity to Cork city centre and the massive traffic and road safety problems that would result. The Government should tell us now what their real intentions are. The truth is that whatever they are planning, it will be just a dressed-up scheme to burden the Irish people with the bill for the recession that Fianna Fáil created,” he said.