Students who did not get tickets for the bus to Ballyhale NS, watch as the school bus leaves without them on Thursday morning. Picture: Pat Moore
A number of families in Ballyhale will walk to school in protest tomorrow (Wednesday) as their children prepare to enter a second week with no seat on the schoolbus.
They are among the students who have been refused a concessionary ticket on the bus to the local national school this term, despite some of them having had a seat in previous years.
Last Thursday morning, the four boys got up and dressed in their school uniforms, and Mr Drennan dropped them down to the bus stop. As their friends boarded they were left sitting there, because they have no tickets and the driver could not let them on board.
Speaking to the Kilkenny People, Mr Drennan, who is among those taking part in the walk, said the lack of communication as well as any headway was frustrating.
“There’s been no progress up until now, nothing has changed,” he said.
“We still have no ticket. It’s quite upsetting at this stage.
“We would have been expecting something to have happened by now.”
The Drennan family contacted Tusla themselves last week to inform them of the situation, and why the boys were not in school.
“Everything takes so long, it’s quite disappointing. No one is even coming up with a suggestion or saying something can be done, or even can’t be done,” he said.
Mr Drennan is a busy farmer, and his children are at different stages in school, so they require three different collection times.
What many parents are hoping for now is a minibus to be provided even for just the morning to alleviate the situation.
Frustration too is growing with Junior Education Minister John Halligan, who parents — and Kilkenny’s own Minister of State John Paul Phelan — say has not responded to them or addressed their concerns.
Speaking to the Kilkenny People, Minister of State Phelan warned that if no progress is made ahead of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting in Galway on Thursday, matters would come to a head.
Asked whether he had heard from Minister of State Halligan on the issue, the Fine Gael TD said he had ‘not at any stage, despite several attempts’.
Deputy Phelan said it was not just him, but that colleagues from all over the country would be raising the issue.
“It is particularly chronic this year and several will raise it, and I myself will be raising it,” he said.
He added that the current system of allocating bus tickets needs to be tweaked to accommodate those who have previously had tickets but now lost them in the Bus Eireann ‘lottery’ system.
“For people who have made decisions about sending their kids to a school, and then to be told halfway through that you can’t get the ticket you’ve had the last two or three years — I don’t see why they can’t be accommodated,” he said.
“A bit of common sense needs to be used.”