A large and diverse crowd from Ballyfermot and Clondalkin attended a public meeting organised by the People Before Profit Alliance in Ballyfermot on Monday 9th February. The meeting was organised by the local candidate Brid Smith to highlight the cuts to the bus service for the area.
Among those who addressed the meeting were Eugene McDonagh, NBRU National Executive, Councillors Joan Collins, Vincent Jackson and Michael Conaghan. Two workers involved in the occupation of Waterford Glass were invited as guest speakers to explain their case and their efforts in trying to safe jobs and production at Waterford Crystal. The meeting warmly welcomed the workers from the occupation and pledged to organise collections in support of their dispute.
Eugene McDonagh, a Clondalkin man, explained how cuts to the service would mean taking out one tenth of the Dublin Bus fleet with the loss of 180 jobs. Eugene told the meeting “No matter what spin the company put on this cut, you cannot take out one in ten buses and tell the public it will have no impact. In this area it will mean the loss of the 206 which services Drumfinn in Ballyfermot and the 210 which links Clondalkin to Tallaght hospital.” Eugene pointed out that what was needed to save all jobs and services is a proper intervention from Government of just €31 million. “This is a drop in the ocean compared to the money this government is willing to risk to prop up the banks and the super rich in this country. It is time for workers to get out on the streets and take action to demand the government bail out jobs and services and not the rich bankers.”
All the councillors present committed to support the community in the fight to defend their bus service. As Brid Smith pointed out “This is just one of the cuts that will hit our area badly. Already there is talk of cuts to CE schemes, community crèches, special needs in schools and other services. We cannot just sit back and let this happen. Ballyfermot fought long and hard to get what services it has – now we have to unite the whole community to defend all services and jobs.”
There were lively contributions from pensioners, mothers, busworkers and students who rely on public transport and want improvements in the service not cuts. The meeting was recorded by Pat Kenny’s RTE radio programme and the following day the views of those present were well aired on the morning show.
It was decided to follow up this meeting with another public meeting in Clondalkin and to print leaflets for information to all residents in these areas. There was a call from the meeting for a local protest of Ballyfermot and Clondalkin residents along with busworkers to defend the bus services.