Ministers meet to discuss Kildalkey school bus impasse

Tuesday, 11th September, 2018 2:39pm

Ministers meet to discuss Kildalkey school bus impasse

Kildalkey students who staged a protest last week after being refused seats on schoolbus to Trim.

Louise Walsh

Post-primary students in Kildalkey continue to be car-pooled to school this week as the fight to get seats on buses rumbles on into its third week.

A delegation of parents of the 12 pupils affected met with local Fine Gael Minister Damien English last Friday who, they say, has promised to raise the issue in a planned meeting with Junior Education Minister John Halligan today (Tuesday)
The students - mostly first years in Trim - have to find their own way to school 10kms away, after they were told by Bus Éireann there were no seats available on the bus for them this year.
They grabbed headlines last week when they staged a protest walk along winding roads from their homes to school, leaving at the same time as the school bus.
As the campaign continues, mum Una Swords says parents are trying to work together in an effort to carpool for their children to be educated.
“We have no choice. We have to carpool at the minute until we get some kind of resolution to this.
“Some parents who have to leave at 7am for work are really relying on the goodwill of neighbours to get their children now to school and thankfully we are all working together to ensure no child is left in need of a lift.
“Minister English told us that school transport was once his brief so he knows the problems faced each year and had recommended change.
“We will just have to wait and see what the result of that meeting has for us and for parents all around the country who are all being affected by this concessionary seat system,” she added.
Una has been hit with a dilemma on how to get both her daughters to school this year, despite her oldest having a place on the bus for the last four years.
“I received an email telling me that not only will Caoimhe (13) not be able to get the school bus to start post-primary this year but that my 17-year old daughter Aoife, who has been getting the bus for the last four years is no longer eligible either.
“Each year, we have to apply and pay up front €300 per child for a place on the bus and then wait until last minute for approval. We're told the seats for everyone are concessionary which means the student isn't guaranteed a seat for the full duration of their education.
Una said that the Department of Education have informed some of the parents that the catchment school for the area is in Athboy.
“There’s only about a mile in the difference and why can't parents have a choice in where their children receive secondary education. We shouldn't have to go to just one school. We choose schools for various reasons and the majority of pupils go to secondary school from here to Trim.”
Bus Éireann has confirmed that, following the random selection process for concessionary seats, a number of children from the Kildalkey area who are not eligible for school transport to Trim have not been allocated a ticket.
They added: “The terms of the school transport schemes are applied equitably on a national basis.”