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*Photograph: Martin Connolly

Accessibility must be given greater priority in the awarding of contracts for rural transport services.

This view was put forward by Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) to Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte (FF) at a meeting hosted by Clare Leader Forum.

Deputy McNamara outlined, “I informed the Minister that since the tender process was carried out for nine local transport routes in Clare, some of the vehicles providing the service are not accessible while some vehicles acquired by Clare Assessable Transport through fundraising and exchequer funding lie idle”.

He felt the present process put more emphasis on cost rather than individuals. “The current tendering criteria appear to be about saving money from one state budget line without having any regard for the impact on individuals, rural communities or even the wider implications for the exchequer. While the Minister and her Department are making some progress, we seem to be moving backwards in some areas, notably ensuring universal access to rural transport services”.

Intervention from the Junior Minister was sought by the Scariff native who called on the National Transport Authority (NTA) “to ensure greater weighting be given to accessibility in future tender processes”.

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