Donnelly calls for joined-up approach to solve school travel concerns

May 25, 2010

SDLP Councillor Geraldine Donnelly has criticised the withdrawal of concessionary bus travel at Clonalig Primary School, saying that better solutions are needed to ensure road safety around the school.

“Concessionary travel has been withdrawn by the Department of Education from children travelling less than two miles to the school.  This decision has created major problems, particularly in relation to the safety of the children,” Councillor Donnelly said.

“Culloville village is inside the limit so the main group of children in the catchment area can no longer use the bus.  First of all, there is no continuous footpath from the main housing areas to the school along what must be one of the busiest rural roads in Ireland, the main Castleblayney – Dundalk route.  Secondly, the withdrawal is resulting in a huge increase in drop-off and pick-up traffic at the school where pull-in space is very limited.”

Mrs Donnelly says there is considerable concern among both teachers and parents regarding these problems.

“It is time we had a bit of joined-up government to solve problems like this.  Travel distance should not be the only consideration in providing school transport, road safety certainly should play a part and the whole cost should not fall on the education budget.

“If our small rural schools are not just to survive but thrive, we need Government that looks at all their needs and not just at the bottom line of Departmental budgets.  I have written to the Minister for Education, and to the Minister for Regional Development in relation to this situation,” she added.