Donegal Sinn Féin representatives have expressed dismay at comments made by Minister of State at the Department of Education, Ciarán Cannon on ‘Morning Ireland’ in which he insisted that he would proceed with proposed cutbacks in the primary school transport system.
Speaking on behalf of the Donegal Sinn Féin representatives, Deputy Pádraig MacLochlainn said there was no point in Minister Cannon coming to Donegal to discuss the cutbacks with parents.
“In response to several public meetings and calls from political representatives, it is understood that Minister Cannon will visit Donegal in a fortnight’s time to meet with concerned parents of children attending national schools across the county. Today however, he has insisted that he will go ahead and implement the cuts – removing hope of reaching a compromise when he meets parents in Donegal”.
“There is growing dismay across Donegal in the many rural communities that will be affected by theses cuts. Similar dismay has been expressed by rural communities in every corner of this state,” said.
He said Sinn Fein now considered the cutbacks as a direct attack on rural communities.
“What value do the Department bean counters place on rural life and the importance of rural transport to sustaining these parishes and town lands. They are also piling further financial pressure on hard pressed families squeezed too far as it is”.
“The ending of the ‘Closed School Rule is just plain dishonourable. Many years ago, the Department of Education led families in town lands that lost their local schools to believe that they would always have transport to the new larger school further away. Now that promise has been broken”
He added it was not good enough for Minister Cannon to hide behind the decisions of the last government.
“He is now the Minister in charge and I would appeal to him to reconsider his position. Unfortunately however, he seems to be digging in his heels and sending a message that parents will have to pay.
“What’s the point of him coming to Donegal in a fortnight? Is there a possibility that he will reconsider? Will he listen to parents concerns or simply tell us what we know already?