Monday 16 September 2019

Mum brands system for allocating concessionary school bus places 'a joke'


Rough patch: Patrick and Noreen Fitzgerald with their children Kate (4), Richard (6) Ellie (3) and Ryan (8)
Rough patch: Patrick and Noreen Fitzgerald with their children Kate (4), Richard (6) Ellie (3) and Ryan (8)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Three of the Fitzgerald family's four children are to attend primary schools in the small village of New Inn, Co Tipperary, from next week.

However, while one of the children - eight-year-old Ryan - has been granted a place on a school bus, his two younger siblings, Richard (6) and Kate (4), have been refused.

Mum Noreen has branded the situation an "absolute joke" and said she doesn't yet know how the family, with two working parents, would handle school pick-ups that take place at different times in the afternoon.

Local Fine Gael election candidate Mary Newman Julian highlighted the case as one that demonstrates the inflexibility of the system of concessionary school bus places.

There are two primary schools in New Inn - Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál caters for girls and boys up to second class, but is exclusively for female pupils after that. New Inn Boys National School teaches male students from second class onwards.

Ryan is entering second class this year and is eligible for a school bus ticket because the boys' school is 3.3km from the Fitzgerald family home, more than the 3.2km threshhold needed to qualify.

He was a recipient of a concessionary ticket during some of the time that he previously attended Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál.

It is 2.9km from the family farm and Ryan's siblings Richard and Kate have been refused concessionary tickets to travel there this year, leaving their parents struggling to make arrangements for getting them to and from school.

Noreen is a nurse who does shift work and dad Patrick runs a busy farm.

"What good is giving one child in a family a ticket?" Noreen asked last night as she branded the concessionary system an "absolute joke".

Irish Independent

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