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Sinn Féin to challenge department over school travel delays

7 September, 2017 - by Gerry Kelly

A Sinn Féin delegation will meet Department of Education officials today over the excessive travel times experienced by children attending Harberton and other Special Schools.

Speaking in advance of the meeting Gerry Kelly MLA commented:

“I alongside my party colleagues, Caoimhe Archibald MLA and Órlaithí Flynn MLA will be meeting with the Department of Education to seek an immediate and effective long-term solution to address the unacceptable travel times experienced by children attending Harberton and other special schools in the Belfast area.

"We have heard harrowing reports of children with special educational needs and other health issues having to sit for hours on a bus.  It has also been reported that some children who are entitled to be picked up from their own homes are having to make their way to meeting points. This is completely unacceptable.

“We had been told earlier in the week that the Education Authority had put in place arrangements to ensure that these children could travel safely to and from school in a timely fashion. These arrangements failed. The EA are continuing to fail parents and children and must be held to account on this matter.

"I will be demanding that the Department takes immediate steps to ensure that suitable and sustainable transport arrangements are put in place for these children.”

Órlaithí Flynn MLA added:

“This cynical cost-cutting exercise employed by the Education Authority has caused undue stress and hardship to vulnerable children and their parents. I will be asking the Department to provide assurances that the health and safety of these children was not put at risk through the excessive times that they have spent on buses. 

"The Department of Education has a duty to ensure that children on EA transport arrive safely at school.

"The Education Authoirty need to ensure that children are taken to and from school safely and on time. I will be pressing for an immediate review of transport provision within special schools and put in place policies, safeguards and practices to ensure there is no child has to endure the harrowing journeys reported this week.”

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