Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD says the Minister of State John Halligan appears to have broken a key pledge made on June 29th in the Dáil regarding the school transport scheme.
At that time 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. However, public representatives across the country are currently inundated with queries from worried parents who say their children have lost their concessionary place on school buses. He also stated that he would pull together a cross party committee to meet over July and August to examine the issue.
Deputy Byrne commented, “Despite his solemn promises a few months ago, school bus places have been cut back right across the country. When I challenged him about the threat of this happening, Minister Halligan gave me 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.
“I have been calling for a change and improvement in how school transport is rolled out across the country. Public representatives from all political backgrounds are overwhelmed with queries from parents who are understandably worried that their children will be left without school transport.
“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 Byrne.