Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has reacted angrily to the publication on Tuesday of the Government’s school transport review after it was revealed that no substantive changes to the scheme have been included as part of the report’s key recommendations.
Deputy Doherty, who says he has continuously called on successive Governments to relax the scheme’s stringent distance rules which currently restrict pupil’s eligibility for school transport, has said that the report offers no comfort to the countless families across Donegal who are being refused bus tickets each year.
Deputy Doherty said: "It is clear from the publication yesterday of the School Transport Review that the Minister of State with responsibility for school transport, John Halligan, has not listened to the concerns raised in respect of the operation of the School Transport Scheme.
"This year almost 7,000 children across the state, including here in Donegal, were refused a seat as part of the scheme, despite claims from the Minister of State that no child would lose a seat while this review was being carried out."
He continued: "The fact that this review proposes keeping the status quo is simply unacceptable and does not take into account the reality on the ground. The policy changes, which were imposed by Fianna Fáil, do not take traditional catchment areas into account, nor do they show any regard for health and safety concerns or community links."
The Deputy added: “"In order to ensure that every child is provided with a school bus seat, the state would need to allocate an additional €7 million to the scheme, yet the Government is not willing to commit to this reasonable investment.