Tuesday 17 September 2019

Relief for parents and students as bus issue resolved

Students in Ballygarrett boarding a bus last Wednesday for Creagh College
Students in Ballygarrett boarding a bus last Wednesday for Creagh College

Simon Bourke

Relief was felt by parents and students in Ballygarrett and Killenagh last Wednesday when it was confirmed their school transport needs would be accommodated and an additional bus would be provided for the Creagh College pupils.

'We want to say thank you to everyone for their amazing work. Everyone who made calls, tweeted, sent texts and letters and got people to sign the petition. We are beyond grateful,' said Georgina O'Leary who had campaigned for the additional service.

As many as 20 children had been affected by the lack of transport and concerned parents had held public meetings in recent weeks as they sought to find a solution to the problem.

Georgina and her colleagues received the good news via an email which stated that due to the additional vehicle being implemented in the area Bus Eireann were 'in a position to accommodate children on a school transport service' and that a ticket would be issued shortly.

The campaign team met on Friday to discuss the outcome, after what they described as three weeks in limbo.

'This week with the children going back to school after the holidays, we realised just how important the bus service is to the morning routine and family life. With the bus being there, it's just a great relief as parents can do what they need to do,' said Chairperson of the Ballygarrett/Killenagh School Bus Advocacy Group, Catherine O'Connor.

'Going forward as a group, we will maintain contact with our politicans after discussions. We were lucky to get our tickets but other places are yet to get over the line. We are hoping the bus will be retained for next year, but we are aware of the issues across the country.

'As a group we are calling on the government to think outside the box and try something different, as the school transport system being so rigid is not fit for today's society,' she said.

In further positive news, Carol West, who had been campaigning on behalf of parents in the Ballagh, said they had been informed a bus would be provided for children in the area by the end of this week.

A meeting for parents in the Ballagh had been planned to take place in Bob's Bar, Enniscorthy last night but was cancelled in light of this announcement.

Cllr Malcolm Byrne, board member of Creagh College agreed that a new government approach to school transport was needed.

'It is something that could be solved with imagination and a child centered approach. Well done to the parents and children involved for their campaign, but nobody should have to go through this,' he said.

Catherine said that throughout the campaign, as a group, the parents had learned the importance of community.

'We will be sending out thank you cards to celebrate everyone's efforts. Over the last few weeks, we witnessed everyone pulling together with one aim,' she said.

During the campaign, members of the group were surprised to learn that this issue had been coming up for decades when one man brought forward a letter received in 1981 detailing the same complaints.

Minister Michael D'Arcy welcomed these positive developments and said he is working to get the issue resolved for students in Adamstown.

Enniscorthy Guardian