Updated: 22/08/17 : 05:14:25
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Councillor says school bus allocation system remains flawed

The decision by Bus Éireann to concede concessionary school bus places to a group of protesting families attending Coola Secondary School has been welcomed by local Councillor Thomas Healy, however Cllr Healy has described the system as “deeply flawed and needing an urgent review.

“I welcome this reversal by Bus Éireann to allow these school children a place on the bus servicing their school,” stated Cllr Healy. “This decision is a huge relief to parents and children alike in the stressful and expensive period of preparing for a new school year. After two years of using this bus my own daughter was amongst the group who were refused a bus place this year so it is a huge relief to us all to have a successful conclusion to our protest.

“However this issue has not gone away, the nearest school rule principle upon which the allocation is based originates from the 1960s, it is deeply flawed, outdated and is not fit for purpose. If children have a right to attend a school then they should have a right to access the same bus as their schoolmates.

"The allocation system takes no account of modern day Ireland and does not consider where parents are working or where extended family and childminders live. There are probably scores of families throughout Sligo who at present do not know how their children are getting to school in a weeks time and this is completely unacceptable.

“Fundamentally this is an issue of equality for rural Ireland. My colleague Deputy Martin Kenny recently submitted an Equality Bill in Dáil Éireann that addressed comprehensively the many ways, including school transport, that rural Ireland looses out to urban Ireland in.

"This is not about resources either, we are all very happy to pay for our tickets and it is estimated that for an investment of as little as € 7 million every child could be allocated a place on their school bus without the uncertainty and disruption of the present system. I have had two motions on this issue successfully adopted by Sligo county Council and I will continue to work on it both at Council and constituent level because everybody deserves the same service regardless of where they live.”