Independent MEP Marian Harkin, who attended a public meeting in Granard to discuss the changes proposed by the Department of Transport to the operation of the rural transport service in Longford and elsewhere, will meet with Minster Alan Kelly, along with Deputy Willie Penrose to discuss the future of the service.
“The service provided by rural transport operators like LCRL is essential to the social and transport fabric of Co Longford. The service itself is flexible, demand driven and serves the needs of individuals and families in the rural community. The value of the service for Co. Longford was very evident at the meeting (Granard) with one person after another telling how valuable the service is to their everyday life.
“It allows people to do their weekly shop, visit their doctor, meet friends and socialise over a cup of tea. It reduces social isolation and rural isolation and for many people is the highlight of their week. It also helps to support small business and local transport companies. It has become part of the fabric of people’s lives.
“The service itself is run very efficiently by Seamus Lee and the Voluntary Rural Transport Board. People spoke of the friendly service, the flexibility of the service and how it meets their needs. To lose this type of service would be a cruel blow and all efforts must be made to ensure this does not happen,” said Ms Harkin.
She added, “The Minister states, there will be no change in services for ordinary people – but that’s simply not possible. In 12 months or two years time, it will be too late when services are withdrawn or changed – now is the time for communities to act by insisting that the structures for rural transport are maintained or put in place and that a service that works well is not destroyed by over centralisation and decision making far removed from the local areas.”