Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has criticised the Government for failing to honour its commitments on school transport.

Deputy Aylward made the comments after raising the issue in the Dáil with Minister of State John Halligan. The Fianna Fáil TD pointed out that the Government promised to complete a review of the school transport scheme prior to Budget 2017 but failed to deliver on this commitment.

“The school transport scheme is an essential part of school life in rural communities across Carlow and Kilkenny and the uncertainty that has been allowed to build up over the last few months is a major source of stress for students and parents alike. Many students have lost their place on the local school bus since September. This is despite the fact that the Government promised that no student would lose a concessionary school bus ticket pending the outcome of a value for money review being conducted by the Department of Education” said Deputy Aylward.

“There are a vast array of problems with the current system that require extensive work and constructive discussion if we are going to solve them. Parents safety concerns regarding dangerous locations for pick up and drop off points are being completely ignored.  Younger siblings are being asked to attend different schools to their brothers or sisters despite strong family ties or a history of attendance in their local parochial school. We also have an appeals system which has not overturned a decision in two years. It is clearly not fit for purpose and should be scrapped and revamped immediately.

“The problem is that the Government have no serious intention of solving the problems at the heart of the school transport scheme. The programme for Government committed to publishing the results of the review in advance of Budget 2017 yet the cross party group that was established to examine the scheme wasn’t called to meet by the Minister until September. There was no realistic chance afforded to opposition TD’s to affect meaningful change throughout the process and no mention of additional funding for the School Transport Scheme on Budget Day.

“Public representatives from all political backgrounds are overwhelmed with queries from parents who are understandably worried about that their children will be left without school transport. It’s time for the Government to get its act together and start actually addressing these concerns.

“I don’t expect the Government to solve this overnight but the very least I expect is that the process of reviewing the scheme be taken seriously. The process to date can only be described as shambolic as best,” concluded Deputy Aylward.