Carol Nolan TD slams outcome of school transport review
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, Teachta Carol Nolan, has slammed the recommendations of the school transport review published today.
Teachta Nolan said:
"It is clear that the Minister of State, John Halligan, has not listened to the concerns raised in respect of the operation of the school transport scheme.
"There are almost 7,000 children across the state that have applied for school transport and were refused a seat despite claims from the Minister of State that no child would lose his seat.
"The fact that this review proposes keeping the status quo is simply unacceptable and does not take into account the reality on the ground.
"The policy changes imposed by Fianna Fáil do not take account of traditional catchment areas, health and safety concerns or community links.
"The fact that it would cost a mere €7 million to provide every child with a school bus seat adds insult to injury and will be of no comfort to families affected by this.
"In our alternative budget, Sinn Féin had provided for a €7 million investment in the school transport scheme.
"Many children who attend the same school as their siblings and neighbours or who cannot access their nearest school will lose out on school transport as up to 20% of children avail of school transport on a concessionary basis.
"This problem will not go away and in fact is likely to get worse in future years as demands for school bus seats increase.
"The government's mean spirited short sighted approach to this issue has been fully demonstrated by this whitewash of a review and the fact that the government has explicitly stated that they will be downsizing buses to cater only for eligible pupils is very concerning.
"Many parents will be faced with the prospect of their child, who is currently availing of school transport on a concessionary basis, losing out on their school bus seat next September.
"I intend to raise this issue with the Minister for Education and Skills in the Dáil and I will continue to fight to ensure that children can avail of the necessary school transport service in order to access their right to education."