Thursday 24 May 2018

Michael Healy-Rae labels ban on over-70s driving school buses as 'ageism'

Independent TD Michael Healy Rae Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Independent TD Michael Healy Rae Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

INDEPENDENT TD Michael Healy-Rae has hit out at the policy that sees bus drivers over 70 stopped from driving children to school branding it “ridiculous” and “ageism”.

Mr Healy-Rae urged Education Minister Richard Bruton to overturn the rule.

“Whatever genius inside in whatever department came up with that stupid, ridiculous idea would you go back minister -  you are the minister at the end of the day - would you talk to him and would you put it up to him to take that back.

“And if we achieve nothing else here tonight I think that’s an important thing to achieve,” Mr Healy-Rae said in the Dáil during an education debate.

Earlier he outlined how bus drivers over 70 can’t bring children to school.

“But if he wants to pick them up at the school gate and drive them from Ballinskelligs to Donegal," he said.

“Now if a man or a lady is good enough to drive a bus from Malin to Mizen with a bus full of children and he aged or she aged 70 years of age, surely be to God they’re good enough to drive them to school."

“I think it’s the most insulting thing that you can say to any person at 70 years of age ‘well you’re not good enough now to drive the young lads to school',” Mr Healy-Rae added.

“It’s ridiculous minister and I’m not blaming you,” he continued, while asking Mr Bruton to have the rules changed saying it’s “total ageism”

Last week Mr Healy-Rae asked the Education Department about the policy.

Junior Minister John Halligan responded saying that Bus Éireann operates the school transport scheme and had arranged that bus drivers that want to continue past the age of 65 can work for another five years suject to medical reviews.

“Bus Éireann has further advised that the opinion of the Bus Éireann Chief Medical Officer is that, given the demanding and safety critical nature of School Bus driving, 70 years of age is deemed a reasonable age at which to retire from such employment,” Mr Halligan’s answer said.

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