Calls for scrapping of M50 tolls to ease cost of living burdens
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The Government should get rid of tolls on the M50 as part of efforts to help ease the cost of living crisis, according to Aontú's leader.
Peadar Tóibín made the comments on Newstalk's Lunchtime Live programme where he described the current cost of living situation as "crippling".
"People are finding it difficult to keep a roof over their heads, pay their rent, put fuel in their car even at the moment," he told the show.
"Also... we have a lot of tolls in this country.
"So in County Meath, for example, we have four tolls on the motorways in total, so if you're living in Cavan or the north of Meath, you'll travel through three tolls in one direction to get to south Dublin.
"And if you add up those costs, it can cost two or three grand a year just in the price of tolls to get to work.
"And for many people, that's a phenomenal cost to have to pay."
Tóibín revealed Aontú conducted some investigations into the M50 tolls and said that over the last nine years alone, the State has made €1.2 billion in income from them.
"Initially, this was built by a private company. Initially, the revenue went to a private company," he added.
"But back in the days of Bertie Ahern, because of the crisis then, the State decided to buy it out for €600 million.
"Since then, they've built a second bridge to increase the capacity on that.
“And we reckon, at this stage, the people of Ireland have paid for all of the construction costs in relation to this.
“So, at this stage, the collection of tolls there is not to cover the cost of the road. The collection of tolls is basically a profit now.”
Tóibín later said that in response to requests to reduce VAT on fuel, the Government has said it cannot do so due to the European Union.
"So, we’re searching for areas where the Government do have the ability to make a decision which would ease the pressure on families in terms of the cost of living and here is one," the Aontú leader stated.
“It’s no skin off the government’s nose. They are not paying down a debt that's directly related to this particular road, they are not covering the cost of anything.
"This is a reduction that they could easily introduce... which would actually reduce the cost of commuting and working for tens of thousands of people.
“People deserve a break. They deserve some level of easing of the cost of living.
"People are at a stage at the moment where they can only afford to drive to work or drive to get groceries.
“There is a real crisis in the cost of living. I think everybody agrees on that and what we in Aontú are simply saying is 'OK, let’s go through people’s expenditure and where there’s an ability for the Government, without any cost to the Government, to ease that on people, let’s start that process.'”
On the M50, tolls for cars and public service vehicles with seating for up to eight passengers cost from €2.10 to €3.20.