Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must clamp down on the activities of his anti-rural Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and resolve the school bus transport crisis, independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has warned.
Speaking on the matter, Fitzmaurice said: “The inability to find €4 million to sort out the transport needs of rural schoolchildren is yet another example of this Government is being the most anti-rural administration in the history of the state.
“This Government has billions and billions available for LUAS lines, imaginary Metro’s, DARTS, bicycle lanes and buses for Dublin.
“Yet, such is their apparent determination to drive rural people off the land, they cannot afford a few buses for schoolchildren.
“Even in the 1980’s, when I was going to school and the country was broke, the school bus was a feature of every road and boreen in rural Ireland.
“The current cut-backs are an utter betrayal of the legacy of Donagh O’Malley, who started the school-bus system to accompany free second level schooling.
“We can be sure neither would have been started under this ‘Posh Boy’ administration that can find €90 million for private schools, but can’t find €4 million for working and farming people.
“It is a total scandal that 30,000 students lose out on school bus places because of Paschal Donohoe’s penny-pinching.
“This is a penny-wise pound-foolish approach that will clog our roads with cars and add further pressure to the lives of hard-working people who will have to get up even earlier to go to work.
“This regressive decision sends a clear signal over how working people will fare under the ‘Posh Boys’ if Brexit goes bad.
“It also poses a real political challenge for the Minister of State with responsibility for school transport, John Halligan.”
Concluding, Fitzmaurice said: “I support the common-sense approach of the Education Minister Joe McHugh, who unlike his ‘Posh Boy’ colleagues, at least knows a little about rural Ireland.
“It is time now for Mr Varadkar to put a political clamp on Paschal Donohoe’s latest attack on rural people. It is bad enough that this Government can’t build a school that doesn’t fall down.
“Now though they are stopping rural children from even getting to their falling down new schools.
“And if the Taoiseach cannot put political manners on his Finance Minister, it is time for Mr Varadkar’s back-benchers to put a stop to this socially regressive proposal.”