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Conway-Walsh challenges O’Mahony to change policy on school transport

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Conway-Walsh challenges O’Mahony to change policy on school transport


Anton McNulty


Government TDs in Mayo have been urged to use their influence to change government policy on school transport instead of trying to ‘disassociate’ themselves from their own ‘disastrous policies’.
Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh made the remarks in response to recent comments by Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony who described the implementation of savings to the school transport in areas of Mayo as ‘madness’.
Parents in some areas of Mayo such as Ballycroy were informed earlier in the summer that their children starting secondary school will not be eligible for free transport due to changes to the Catchment Boundary Area System and Closest School Rule.
As the start of the new school year approaches, the cutback is becoming a major issue in many rural communities. Some families face the prospect of having to change their children’s secondary school to avail of free transport. Parents affected by the changes have been informed they will have to pay €350 per child or €650 per family to get a seat on the bus.
Last week, Deputy O’Mahony said there was ‘no way that savings can be made’ from the decisions which are due to be implemented and that he wants the Department of Education to get the situation sorted.
“What savings can be made in such cases?” he asked. “Families are being split up with members of the one family being forced to go to different schools. I know the Department of Education is very aware of the situation and is making efforts to get it sorted out. However, the situation will come to a head in August and September.
“When this works through the system it will have major implications for schools that received investment for new and additional buildings in recent years. There is no way that savings can be made from some of these decisions that are due to be implemented,” he said.
While welcoming his statement on the issue, Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh said she was ‘exasperated’ to hear of his ‘complete inability to influence the decision of his own Government to implement Fianna Fail Policy’.
“As Deputy O’Mahony rightly pointed out there are no savings whatsoever in forcing children to attend other schools. What he does not point out is that the real savings will be made when school bus routes are cut completely. It is clear that this government is intent on making school transport a thing of the past.
“Continuous increases in cost, including the 100 per cent increase in National School Transport, are forcing parents to find an alternative to take their children to school. It is time our Government TDs here in Mayo stopped trying to disassociate themselves from their own government’s disastrous policies which are devastating rural Ireland and driving families into poverty,” she said.