Monday 19 August 2019

Eighteen children in one secondary school told they no longer have a place on bus

Anger: At a meeting advocating school bus seats for pupils in Creagh College were parents
Alissa Walker and Catherine O’Connor
Anger: At a meeting advocating school bus seats for pupils in Creagh College were parents Alissa Walker and Catherine O’Connor
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

At least 18 children in one school have been told they can no longer use the school bus because of a lack of space.

Parents have started a campaign to get the Department of Education to change the strict rules governing buses - but they are not hopeful the problem will be resolved ahead of the new term on August 28.

A majority of the children attending Creagh College in Gorey, Co Wexford, had so-called concessionary tickets in previous years.

Suzanne Nolan, whose two daughters are affected, said families were being put under "huge stress".

One of her daughters has taken the bus for the past five years while the other is going into second year.

Panic

"We applied for the school bus in April. We paid in June. Now people feel really aggrieved that two-and-a-half weeks from the school year starting they are being told there's no seats on the bus," she said.

Similarly, Darlene Carr said: "It's just thrown us all into panic. My son is doing PE as a subject. Creagh College is the only school in Wexford doing it as a pilot scheme so I can't send him to another school."

The parents have received quotes for a private bus service but it would cost in the region of €40 per week for a child. The School Transport Scheme is charged at a rate of €350 per pupil for the year.

A car pool system has also been discussed but many parents are worried about insurance and child protection issues.

Fianna Fáil councillor Malcolm Byrne, who chairs the board of management in Creagh College, told the Irish Independent that a growing number of families are affected.

"This should be a problem that we can solve. There's an element of 'get on and sort it out'. Of all the big challenges we are facing this isn't the biggest of them," he said.

The situation in Wexford is repeated in countless schools around the country.

Minister of State John Halligan has said the system is "creaking at the seams" but said the Department of Public Expenditure is blocking him from releasing €4m that would help lay on bigger buses.

Irish Independent

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