Senator: “Idiotic” school transport decision a “laughing stock” and “embarrassment”

first_imgDonegal Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has expressed his shock at a response from the Minister for School Transport, John Halligan on the issue of families in the Urris area of Inishowen being denied the right to send their children to Carndonagh Community School under the Department of Education’s School Transport Scheme.This is because secondary schools in Buncrana are deemed closer than Carndonagh even though the route to Buncrana is over Mamore Gap, a treacherous route in winter or in poor weather conditions.Senator Mac Lochlainn said; “This latest response makes a laughing stock of our public administration system. The refusal of the Minister and his Department officials to sort this out is now farcical and frankly it’s an embarrassment.” Senator Pádraig MacLochlainnRather than assessing the route for the nearest school based on how the children or students get there; on a school bus, these Department officials base their assessment on the “shortest traversable route which may be either pedestrian or vehicular from a family’s home to their nearest school”. This is idiotic. They are not walking or cycling to school, they are getting the school bus. The whole point of the scheme”.“I understood that this issue would be resolved long ago and in the absence of any indications of a resolution, I wrote to Minister Halligan earlier this year. Despite assurances that he would get back to me, I heard nothing.”“I then asked my colleague Carol Nolan TD, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson to raise it under parliamentary questions so that I could get an actual answer to my questions. I am just shocked at this response.”“However I am not backing down. This nonsense has to be sorted out and I will continue to pressurise the Minister and his Department until common sense prevails”. The reply received from the Minister states;“School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.”“During the 2015/16 school year in the region of 114,000 children, including some 10,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in approximately 4,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.“As the Deputy is aware, under the terms of my Department’s Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.“Bus Éireann has advised that in general children residing in the Urris area are not eligible for school transport to schools in Carndonagh. Consequently, these children may avail of school transport on a concessionary basis only to Carndonagh subject to a number of terms and conditions which are outlined in the Scheme. “Bus Éireann determines distance eligibility by measuring the shortest traversable route, which may be either pedestrian or vehicular from a family’s home to their nearest school. The main purpose of this measurement is to identify the distance that families reside from their nearest school and to assess if they meet the distance eligibility criterion for school transport.”“The route travelled by a school transport service is not a consideration in determining distance eligibility for school transport. In the interests of equity, this is applied on a consistent standard basis across the country.“Safety of children travelling on the school transport service is of paramount importance to my Department and to Bus Éireann. Bus Éireann place special emphasis on safety and, to this end, have a wide range of checking procedures in place to ensure that a safe and reliable service is provided.Senator: “Idiotic” school transport decision a “laughing stock” and “embarrassment” was last modified: October 15th, 2016 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more