School bus appeal for boy with special needs
A Balbriggan father is fighting for school transport for his eight-yearold son, who has special needs, to the nearest suitable primary school, in Portmarnock. Paul Mcmahon said he was told the Department of Education and Bus Eireann would arrange transport for his son, David, who travels to the Portmarnock school from his home in Castlelands, Balbriggan.
According to Paul, he was told this service would be in place by the start of this school term.
David, who’s in second class, attends St. Marnock’s NS, Portmarnock, the closest school to Balbriggan that caters for his special needs, according to his dad.
Currently, Paul, who is unemployed, drives David to Portmarnock and back each day, a 70 mile round trip which, he said, is placing the family under undue financial pressure.
According to Paul, despite having sent in all the appropriate paperwork, neither Bus Eireann or the Department of Education have been in touch to update them on the situation.
He said ‘We filled in all the relevant paperwork, and the school sent it in to Bus Eireann.’
But the transport has never materialised for the eight-year-old with special needs and Paul has heard nothing from the Department of Education.
He said: ‘We contacted the Department of Education and were told the documents were sent to Bus Eireann, and that we’d have to contact them. When we rang Bus Eireann, we were told that they only had a certain amount of time to do paperwork, and that it hadn’t been looked at yet. No-one is telling me anything – nothing.’
According to Paul, there are two other children from Balbriggan, and one child from Donabate, who are in need of the service. All four children are currently relying on parents to take them to and from school, he said.
When contacted, Darragh O’brien TD (FF), who was aware of the issue said: ‘I’ve been raising it with Government and with the Minister. I put down parliamentary questions and had another question put down this week.’
He added: ‘I got an answer back two weeks ago to say it was resolved, but obviously it wasn’t.
‘John Halligan is the Minister with responsibility, I’ve also written to Minister Bruton as well, and I’m going to keep pushing it.
‘We will get it resolved, but it’s ridiculous it’s taken this amount of time’, he said.
The Minister’s response to the parliamentary question posed on September 18 2018 in Dáil Éireann read: ‘A school transport service has been sanctioned to cater for the children referred to by the Deputy and Bus Éireann will be in contact with the families to inform them of arrangements.’
Despite this response, Paul and his family are still in the dark and there is still no school bus pulling up outside the house to take David to the school that can cater for his particular set of special needs.
Paul Mcmahon and his son, David who has special needs, campaigning for school transport.