Children are 'being left on the road' because they cannot get bus spaces 

Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh said many children still do not have transport even though schools have reopened.
Children are 'being left on the road' because they cannot get bus spaces 

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD is under pressure to ensure school transport for the children who need it. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Children are "being left on the road" because they cannot get places on schools buses the Dáil has heard.

Education Minister Norma Foley has come under pressure to ensure school transport is provided for the 120,000 pupils who need it.

Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh said many children still do not have transport even though schools have reopened.

"I am continuously getting calls from parents about this. It does not matter to them how clean the buses are if their children cannot get on them," she said.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice claimed the application portal for school bus places is not open to parents meaning their children have been left without transport.

"Children are being left on the side of the road by the Department because it would not allow their parents to pay in the past few weeks."

He said: "It is a disgrace that parents who are going out to work must try to get a neighbour or another person to bring their child to school or pick them up from school at a time when people are meant to limit their interactions.

"Bus Éireann stated — and I hope the Department will confirm this one way or the other — that it was instructed two weeks ago to close the portals.

"Bus Éireann will not now engage with parents or anybody else. It is waiting for a few months to see whether it can get more buses on the road."

He called on the Minister to direct Bus Éireann to reopen the portal so parents access places for their children on a bus.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly said a comprehensive school transport system needs to be rolled out.

She hit out at the “mixed messaging” around transport and said “there is a very bad message going out to avoid public transport. We should be sending out regular updates about what we’re doing” to ensure transport is improving and get cars off the road.

Junior Education Minister Josepha Madigan told the Dáil that Bus Éireann was now in the process of obtaining extra vehicles to ensure all children have a place on a school bus. She said school buses will be operating at 50% of capacity.

In his first Dáil contribution since standing down as agriculture minister, Dara Calleary highlighted issues with the assessment of teachers who have high risk conditions.

"I’d ask that there be some sort of consistency and some sort of understanding of teachers who are expected to be in a classroom situation and have high risk conditions," he said.

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