Norma Foley insists she will try to get funds in the household to clean up school transport chaos

Education Secretary Norma Foley has insisted she is trying to secure extra funds in next week’s budget to help solve the school bus crisis, which has left many children without transport to school.

appears on RTÉ’s prime time program on Tuesday night, ahead of her appearance before a Dáil committee on the issue this morning, she said she was in talks with the Department of Public Expenditure to see if it could allocate additional funds in the budget for students to “reduce” public spending Transport tickets also have a seat on the bus.

Ms Foley announced in July that school transport fees would be waived for the coming school year, saving families around €500 a year. Since then, over 8,000 children have applied for a seat on school buses, but some parents have experienced delays in receiving their school bus tickets.

Ms Foley insisted 124,000 students who meet the criteria for free school transport will receive it.

When asked about the children who have not yet received their bus tickets, she said: “I am in talks specifically for those who are outside the loop who have not met criteria and are concessionaires to see if the department Public spending has wiggle room if we can get additional funding, maybe to hit that particular cohort.”

“These discussions are in the context of everything else in the household and we’ll see next Tuesday.”

She will appear before the Joint Committee on Education, Continuing Education and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science this morning to discuss, among other things, the “safe and sustainable reopening of schools”, although the issue of school transport is expected to dominate the session.

But Education Labor Party spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who also made an appearance prime timesaid her words effectively sounded hollow and claimed she had to be dragged “kicking and screaming” to discuss the issue at today’s education committee meeting.

“I’ve previously described the Department of Education as a dysfunctional Debs Committee, and the minister now appears to be the Debs Committee chair who just made a bag out of the buses,” he said.

He said the free bus transport scheme was announced in July but claimed Ms Foley was on duty before schools reopened for the autumn.

“We had to set five different dates by the Board of Education for her to appear before us to discuss this matter. If she had come before us and said, “Yes, I know there are teething problems, but we are trying to solve them.” But she didn’t do that,” he said.

“Everything is on fire with this minister. She was told clearly – it was clear that Bus Éireann gave her no feeling whatsoever that they would be able to meet the capacity needs of this new policy. Obviously they wanted to get more and more people to apply for tickets, some people I understand have applied for tickets and are not using them.

“When you announce something, do it right and do it so it can be delivered,” he said. Norma Foley insists she will try to get funds in the household to clean up school transport chaos

Fry Electronics Team

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