“Dept. of Transport finds €2.3 million for consultants while rural bus proposal to get mere €450,000”
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said confirmation that the Department of Transport paid €2.3 million to private consultancy firms in 2017 will generate considerable anger and frustration, particularly in light of the fact that the department proposes to spend 5 times less than that figure to fund a rural bus link for 50 communities in 2018. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, provided the details to him in reply to a parliamentary question:
“How can Minister Ross continue to maintain that his plan to tackle rural isolation has even a shred of credibility when we now know that the entire €450,000 budget for the rural bus link scheme pales into insignificance when compared to the millions he is paying private consultancy firms?
What will be even more galling for the people in rural communities is the confirmation that more half of that €2.3 million cost was given to AECOM, a US firm that describes itself as a global network of experts who aim “to deliver transformative outcomes.”
The Minister’s department paid AECOM €1,343,304 in 2017 for an ‘evaluation of sustainable transport areas.’
We have no idea what they paid them in 2018 as that detail has not been provided.
On the face of it there is one clear winner in all of this and it is not rural Ireland.
However, even if we leave aside the private consultancy fees, it has also been confirmed to me that the department paid out a separate €544 thousand in 2017 for ‘Incidental expenses.’ Again; that is a hundred thousand more than the entire budget of the rural bus link proposal.
All of this demonstrates that when it comes to addressing rural isolation, the department is reluctant to spend what is needed. Yet when it comes to fees, private consultancy costs and expenses, money will always be found,” concluded Deputy McGrath.