Two Tipperary politicians have become embroiled in a rural transport row.

Two Tipperary politicians have become embroiled in a rural transport row.

Indepenent TD Mattic McGrath hit out this week at plans unveiled by Minister Alan Kelly aimed at overhauling the Rural Transport Programme.

Deputy McGrath said the plan would have a hugely detrimental effect on the Ring a Link rural transport scheme in South Tipperary. Deputy McGrath, who is a director of the Ring-a-Link Scheme, was speaking after the release of the ‘Strengthening the Connections in Rural Ireland’.

At the launch Minister Kelly said the Rural Transport Programme was simply not achieving its full potential and would have to be reorganised. ”The changes we are announcing today will ensure that Rural Transport Services remain in Tipperary for generations to come. The changes are absolutely necessary in order to ensure the survival of rural transport services in Tipperary,” said the Minister.

Deputy McGrath said there must be strong resistance to the plans.

“This Minister and the Transport Authority should certainly be given an award for irony, because the last thing this proposed restructuring will achieve is a strengthening of rural transport schemes. We in Tipperary who currently operate the Ring-a-Link Scheme in conjunction with Carlow/Kilkenny have had enormous success to date with the present structure. However, under the new proposals which Minister Kelly is seeking to implement, the 80,000 trips a year that we organise, half of which are in South Tipperary, will be under severe attack. I must stress that I am not opposed to the idea of amalgamation per se, but what these restructuring plans will achieve is quite the reverse of his stated goals. I am calling on Minister Kelly to re-examine his plans to merge the 35 independent rural transport companies into 18 consolidated Transport Co-Ordination Units aligned with local authorities,” concluded Deputy McGrath.