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Immediate provisions for seatbelts needed on all school buses - McGuigan

5 September, 2006

Sinn Féin assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan has welcomed the announcement that new school buses are to be fitted with seatbelts but has said that provisions should be made for seatbelts on current school transport arrangements.

His comments come in light of the announcement made by British minister Marie Eagles saying that funding has been made available for 110 new buses which will have seat belts fitted.

Mr McGuigan said:

"As both a parent and an elected representative, I have to welcome the announcement from the British minister on safety for school buses. However, these measures that have been announced today are to be implemented on new buses that are yet to come on stream.

"In May of last year we witnessed the terrible tragic deaths of five school children from Meath in a school bus accident. To avoid such tragedies we need to implement guidelines on seatbelts and an end to the two-for-three rule not only on new buses but across all current school transport arrangements.

"Although seatbelts increase the safety of children, further issues such as over crowding also need to be addressed. In 2002 an assembly committee report recommended the abolishment of the '3 for 2' seating provision by all Education boards and Translink immediately and the implementation of 'one for one' seating in all contracts.

"Unfortunately four years on we continue to see over crowding on our school buses. Without the restoration of the Assembly we are being denied the right to implement these recommendations and to further the protect children as they travel on buses to and from school." ENDS

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