A group of small Irish coach and bus operators has asked its peers in the UK to consider signing a petition that it has created. It calls on senior politicians in Ireland to support the coach industry as it recovers from the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

On the wish list created by the Private Small Bus Operators of Ireland are financial aid and restart grants, among other mechanisms. The group says that assistance from the Irish government is required if its members are to survive the winter months.

Petition organiser Brian Clarke, Transport Manager of Dublin-based SilverLining Coach Hire, adds that Irish coach operators have been affected “in identical ways” to how the UK industry has been hit.

Mr Clarke adds that the petition is part of an approach to politicians that also involves meetings with government departments and agencies. Support for the Irish coach and bus industry has also been received from the Federation of Transport Operators and its representative John Dunne. That led to 50% payment for home-to-school contracts to the end of May.

However, the Irish coach industry faces a bleak immediate future. In an echo of protests in the UK, on 28 July over 90 coaches gathered in Dublin to highlight the need for government aid. 53 met on the N3 road outside the city. They then rendezvoused with 40 more in the centre of the Irish capital.

Mr Clarke says that 10 operators are particularly active and lobbying for support. Several TDs have offered their backing to the sector. Michael Healy-Rae (Independent, Kerry), says that the industry “has its back to the wall”. Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein, Cavan-Monaghan) adds that in March, when the pandemic broke, “it was very clear that bespoke solutions were going to be required” to support operators. He notes that coach and bus companies are “vital components of rural economies” across Ireland.

To sign the petition, click here.