Local Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy says the Minister of State John Halligan appears to have broken a key pledge made in June in the Dáil regarding the school transport scheme.
At that time (June) Minister Halligan stated that students who hold a concessionary school bus ticket will not lose their place pending the outcome of a value for money review being conducted by his department. He (Minister Halligan) also stated that he would pull together a cross party committee to meet over July and August to examine the issue.
Eugene Murphy said “My constituency office has received numerous queries from worried parents who say their children have lost their concessionary place on school buses.”
“Despite his solemn promises a few months ago, school bus places have been cut back right across the country. Minister Halligan gave a firm commitment in the Dáil that no child would lose their place on school buses pending the outcome of a review in his department.
“He also stated that a cross party committee would meet at the end of July and over August to try and help him resolve the outstanding problems with the school transport scheme. Fianna Fáil nominated Deputy Bobby Aylward to sit on this committee. However, despite that commitment we have heard nothing from the Minister regarding any cross party committee.
“Minister Halligan needs to make a statement to clarify the current situation with this committee, and explain why it has not met during the summer as promised.
Numerous local examples
“With students returning to school this week many parents across Counties Roscommon and Galway have been left in limbo land- parents are left jumping through hoops trying to see if their children still have places. We had a situation whereby a family in the Creggs area who had sent their two sons to the CBS in Roscommon Town for a number of years but they were told that the youngest son who is due to start school in September now had to go to Glenamaddy because that was his nearest school. Parents have the right to decide where they would like their children to be educated and these new regulations are breaking up siblings who would like to attend the same school,” said Deputy Murphy.
Eugene Murphy also highlighted the problems of transportation in the case of a mother from the North Roscommon area whose four year-old daughter has Autism and wanted to attend St Mary’s NS in Knockcroghery due to the special Autism Unit.
“The child was turned down for transport as this may not be the closest school that has a programme and supports for children with Autism. The proposed supports granted to her closest school to enable them to accept a child with her specific and complicated needs are not in place and there is no date for when such supports will be in place. There are no new buildings and the school is not equipped for the specific needs at this time.
In relation to the difference in mileage St Mary’s is only 9 miles further than the other school from the child’s home.
Due to the specific nature of the child’s disability it is imperative that she is not left for any amount of time without a school place or the supports that she needs,” said Deputy Murphy.
“an obligation to actually deliver”
“Minister Halligan needs to realise that now he is in Government he has an obligation to actually deliver on his commitments. I am calling on him to ensure school transport services are maintained while this value for money review is ongoing, as he said he would,” concluded Deputy Murphy.