The new school year is just over a fortnight away, but the issue of transport for secondary school students in Urris still has not been resolved.
By Damian Dowds
Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has called on the Minister responsible to decide the issue for once and for all and restore free school transport for eligible families.
Deputy McConalogue says the school transport regime has been put under review by John Halligan, the outspoken Independent Minister of State at the Department Education, but the outcome won’t be known for some time.
“The general ‘nearest school’ rule is to be reviewed by the Minister, but that won’t have any impact for the new school year,” Deputy McConalogue said.
“However, it’s well within the Minister’s power to give free transport for these children from Urris without waiting on the outcome of the review.”
Deputy McConalogue said his party “will be seeking accommodation on the issue of the ‘nearest school’ rule” in its pre-Budget negotiations with the Government, which of course depends on support from Fianna Fáil.
In 2012, the Department of Education introduced a ‘nearest school’ rule, which stated the free transport for eligible families would only be provided if students attended their nearest school.
In 2015, Bus Éireann, which oversees the school transport system, used this as a pretext to deny free transport for students from Urris to Carndonagh Community School as, using a route over Mamore Gap to demonstrate that secondary schools in Buncrana are closer. (Not that a school bus ever travels via Mamore Gap to Buncrana, mind you, but that’s simply too ridiculous to get into.)
Now, eligible families from Urris must pay up to €650 to transport their children to school in Carndonagh, or instead bring them to Clonmany so that they can be bussed to Buncrana.
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