East Cork pupils being left without school transport - Buckley
Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Pat Buckley has condemned the lack of school transport services for pupils in his constituency saying action must be taken by the Department of Education and Skills.
Deputy Buckley continued;
“On the 29th of July ,2016 Minister John Halligan, who has responsibility for this service, announced the establishment of a cross party group in relation to School Transport Review.
“Minister Halligan made a commitment in the Dáil that no child would lose their seat pending a review of the school transport scheme. Unfortunately this is not the case.
“In East Cork, areas such as Killeagh, Castlemartyr, Ladysbridge, Ballycotton, Lisgoold and Cloyne have all been affected by the lack of school bus places for this school term.
“I have received a high number of emails and text messages regarding the very short notice that parents have received the news that their child is now without transport.
“Parents have explained to me that many of their children are very distressed with the way they have been treated. Some families have said they were advised to change schools.
“These parents are rightly infuriated by the fact that despite the demand for more access the department don’t seem to be interested.
“One parent has told me that their child is so distraught, that they can’t stop crying. This is a stressful time for both parents and pupils, accessing education in this country is expensive and paying for uniforms, school books and school transport can have a serious financial impact on many families.
“Back to school costs can total as much as €800 for some students of non-private schools.
“Now parents face uncertainty over how their child will even get to school and the potential added cost of this
“I have contacted the Department by email and have also contacted Bus Éireann on this issue, but as of today Tuesday 23rd August I have received no reply.
“The Minister must step up on this issue. Every child deserves to be assisted in accessing education. Right now his department are creating obstacles or allowing them to develop."
Below is one of many answers that the minister has given to deputies under parliamentary questions.
John Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
In general, children are eligible for school transport if they are attending their nearest school and satisfy the requisite distance criteria. Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only. Transport on a concessionary basis is subject to a number of conditions which are detailed in the School Transport Scheme such as the existence of spare seats on the bus after all eligible children have been catered for and payment of the school transport charge.
The Programme for Government commits to review the East Cork concessionary charges and rules element of the School Transport Scheme prior to Budget 2017.