LIMERICK TD Kieran O’Donnell has welcomed today’s announcement by Education Minister Norma Foley (See Note to Editors below) that a new school transport scheme will provide for additional school bus places for pupils attending St. John the Baptist Secondary school in Hospital, Co. Limerick and who live in the east limerick area. This follows a lengthy campaign by Deputy O’Donnell, with the pupils, parents and the School on this important issue.
The school Transport Steering Group has reported to Minister Foley with its initial preliminary report on the Review of the School Transport Scheme. This reports recommends that school transport arrangements should be provided for a number of post-primary students who are attending their second nearest school, who have applied and paid on time and who live more than 4.8km from their nearest school, which is the case with pupils living in the greater East Limerick areas of Caherconlish, Ballyneety, Knockea, Ballybricken and Fedamore attending their local St. John the Baptist secondary school in Hospital.
Deputy O’Donnell has asked Government to look at easing the current 50% capacity restrictions on school buses, public health guidelines permitting. This would greatly assisting in putting the necessary school transport in place as quickly as possible.
“I am delighted that after a lengthy campaign with pupils, parents and the school, pupils from the greater East Limerick areas of Caherconlish, Ballyneety, Knockea, Ballybricken and Fedamore attending their local St. John the Baptist secondary school in Hospital, will now be eligible for school bus tickets from August, when schools return. This is a very positive development and follows an announcement today by Education Minister Norma Foley on a formal report on the review of school transport carried out by her Department.
“This reports recommends that school transport arrangements should be provided for a number of post-primary students who are attending their second nearest school, who have applied and paid on time and who live more than 4.8km from their nearest school, which is the case with pupils living in the greater East Limerick areas attending their local St. John the Baptist secondary school in Hospital.
“I have been working consistently on reaching a solution to this specific school transport issue for St John the Baptist Secondary School, Hospital for the last number of years and held numerous meetings with parents, the School, Education Minister Norma Foley and Bus Eireann to progress with this important matter. Particularly, I was adamant that families would not have to deal with any further uncertainty around this issue and that Bus Eireann’s first communication with families would be to issue school bus tickets to pupils for travel to their local secondary school, St John the Baptist’s in Hospital.
“Up to now, we had the extraordinary situation whereby because of the unique Common Applications System(CAS) that applies in Limerick City, where the required School transport distance of 4.8km is measured to the GPO in Limerick City, many of the pupils living in the greater east Limerick did not technically qualify for school transport to their local secondary school in hospital. Today’s progressive announcement by Education Minister Norma Foley, whereby pupils 2nd nearest secondary school qualifies for school transport ensures these pupils are now eligible for school transport to their local secondary school of St. John the Baptist in hospital.
“This will come as a great sense of relief to pupils and their parents knowing that they will be able to apply and have a school bus ticket in place before the start of the school term. I know from dealing with the parents and pupils over the last number of years the severe anxiety this caused.
“I wish to thank Education Minister Norma Foley and her officials for their work in finding a solution here and also pay particular compliment to the local Bus Éireann school transport staff as well as the parents representative, Arlene Gleeson and school principal, Noreen Rafferty who all have worked tirelessly on this matter.
“Also, earlier today in the Dail,I raised with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar TD, the current capacity restrictions of 50% in respect of school transport. I requested that in line with the current review on easing the general 50% capacity restrictions around general public transport, a similar review would be undertaken by Government to look at the possibility of easing the capacity limits for school transport, public health guidance permitting. This would clearly provide flexibility for the local Bus Eireann school transport office towards putting in place the necessary buses to accommodate the East Limerick based pupils now eligible for school bus tickets to St. John the Baptist Secondary school in Hospital under today’s announcement from Education Minister Norma Foley TD.