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Mediator sought for Clare Bus & NTA dispute

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*Photograph: John Mangan

An audit of Clare Accessible Transport is to be made public following talks between the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Clare’s Oireachtas members on the future of Clare Bus.

A new process of procurement is to begin from Thursday on nine routes which currently have no contractor. Clare Bus is eligible to apply for the tender. Deputy Joe Carey (FG) maintained it was vital Clare Bus applies for the routes.

It is expected that a mediator will be appointed by the NTA to obtain further information on Clare Bus’ arrears.

On Thursday, Clare’s five Oireachtas members met via teleconference with the NTA to discuss the future of Clare Bus.

During the meeting, Cathal Crowe (FF) requested that the results of a 2019 audit from Clare Accessible Transport be made public.

Crowe outlined, “An audit of Clare Bus was also undertaken last year, which the arrears dispute has arisen from and the NTA has acceded to my request to make that audit public, which should answer some of these questions. The NTA has continued to dispute any outstanding arrears but have also confirmed that a sum of €20,000 which was withheld at the time of the audit will be paid to Clare Bus, if they submit the necessary paperwork”.

All 25 Clare Bus workers are currently on COVID-19 payments. Deputy Crowe said it was “inevitable” some of these would have to be made redundant.

“Clare Bus has no money to pay redundancies as they were paid by the NTA on a break even basis. The firm would have to sell some of its fleet to pay out and I have asked the NTA to be involved in paying off the workers but they have refused this request, saying that it’s because of guidance from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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