The school bus ticket controversy has left two Cork students with no other option but to drive their tractors to school.
Because their parents are tied up at work, Ciaran O’Leary and Donal Sheehan have to commute 34km in their agricultural vehicles from Glenville to secondary school in Fermoy daily.
The school-goers appeared on Virgin Media News in an interview with its southern correspondent, Paul Byrne, in recent days.
School bus ticket saga
The presenter said: “It is school transport of a different kind and one these classmates never imagined they would have to use.”
One of the students, Donal Sheehan, told Byrne: “I have been taking the bus for the last four years from second year to fifth year and this year, due to the buses being free, I guess, and rising numbers, they just kicked me off the bus.”
“I did not get it, and now I am stuck driving the tractor in and out twice a day, 34km in and out. So, it takes a while and a lot of diesel. The price of diesel has gone up, and it is heartbreaking to see all the lads getting the bus for free when I am paying a lot of money to get in and out.”
Ciaran O’Leary added: “It is a bit embarrassing that you have to drive a tractor to school. You would say you should be able to get a bus.”
“But, you have to do it because if I do not, then I have no way to school.”
Byrne added that introducing free school transport has seen a “massive” demand for seats. But in Glenville, twenty children have failed to secure a place.
Denis O’Leary, a parent, appeared during the segment, saying: “It is a total disgrace what is going on at the moment. Norma Foley has fierce questions to answer.”
“She is the Minister for Education and has not done her homework on this when she released that the buses are free.”
A parent, Paul O’Mahoney, said: “If the government thought about it before they released that everyone gets a free ticket, this would not have been an issue.”
Niamh Kelleher, another parent, revealed: “It is costing nearly €50,000 collectively for all of us to drive from Glenville to Fermoy. The price of diesel is rising.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education told Virgin Media News that: “students known as concessionary applicants will be allocated a seat once all eligible children are catered for”.
Until a seat on the bus becomes available, Ciaran and Donal will have to continue searching for a parking space near their school for the foreseeable future.
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