Minister of State needs to hold firm on commitment that no child will lose school bus seat – Nolan
Commenting today on information that twelve children in North Offaly are threatened with the loss of school transport, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills and TD for Offaly and North Tipperary, Teachta Carol Nolan, has called on the Minister of State Deputy John Halligan to hold firm on his commitment that no child would lose a bus seat before the review of the school transport system takes place.
Teachta Nolan said:
“Twelve children from my constituency have been contacted by Bus Éireann and informed that there is no school transport available to them, despite the fact that they availed of school transport previously.
“One of the children in question is being refused transport on the basis that his parents were one week late in paying for the service.
“This contradicts Minister of State, John Halligan’s public commitment that no child would lose their school bus seat pending a review of the school transport system.
“I would also be concerned that other families are losing school transport in cases that we are unaware of.
“I am calling on the Minister of State to hold firm on the promise he has made and confirm that there will be no cases whereby a child will lose their school bus seat.
“The rules introduced by Fianna Fáil and implemented fully by the previous Fine Gael and Labour government, which state that a child must be attending their nearest school in order to be eligible for school transport, are simply not workable in practice.
“This has led to a significant increase in the number of children availing of concessionary transport and it appears that there is a policy in the Department of Education to restrict this.
“The funding allocated to School Transport for 2016 is on the basis of 2,000 less students receiving school transport despite increasing numbers in the school population.
“Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted this issue and I am pleased that I will be a member of the cross party group set up to examine this issue.
“Our party will continue to highlight the impact of these rules on students, parents, schools and local communities and will seek reforms that address these concerns.”