Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children, Robert Troy TD, is calling on the Government to intervene and use common sense with plans to restrict free school transport.
The Longford Westmeath TD said: “I have been contacted by numerous parents in the past week who have been told that their children will not be eligible for free school transport from September because of new criteria introduced. The Government needs to take a common sense approach with this latest fiasco.”
Under the rules, children are only eligible for State supported transport if they attend their nearest school. This is an issue which affects both primary and secondary schools.
“I believe this is an approach that makes no financial sense. In most cases the school bus is already travelling from these town lands but new pupils will not be entitled to a place without paying a concessionary charge and can only travel if there is spare capacity on the bus. As a result, some children starting school in September will find they are not allowed to travel on the same bus as their older siblings while families with medical cards will still have to pay these costs.
“The changes will also mean that many children would have to attend a school in another parish because the school is technically closer. Also it means that many students who attended preschool are no longer able to attend primary school with their young friends. Some primary schools would historically be seen as feeder schools for secondary ones which is also been overlooked.
“The matter has been raised with Minister Ciarán Cannon on several occasions but he has so far refused to consider the impact of his decision on families in Westmeath, Longford and across the country.
“As parents now start thinking about budgeting for September, I am appealing to the Minister to reconsider before it’s too late. Before the election many current Government TD's were bending over to emphasise that measures such as these would be avoided if they were in Government. It is now time to live up to the pre-election talk,” said Deputy Troy.