Ciaran Cannon was in Letterkenny this morning where he was met by more than 150 protesters angry at the new proposed transport charges.
Under the new plans, schoolchildren living less than 3.2 kms from rural schools will have to pay €200 per child per year while those outside that zone will have to pay €50 each.
The Minister was due to meet deputations from five different schools across Donegal who are fuming at the new charges.
Dozens of children waved placards with some reading ‘Don’t Make our children cannon fodder.’
“Minister Cannon is like some latter day Dick Turpin who has issued the ultimatum – your money or your children’s lives.
“Rural Ireland must rise with us and the people of Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon and elsewhere must take a stand against this penalty,” he said.
Mr Quinn called on both Deputy Joe McHugh and Senator Jimmy Harte to make their views on the school bus charges known to the public of Donegal.
The Minister said a Bus Eireann survey had shown the new charges affect just 5% of pupils.
However angry parents in Donegal said their own survey had found that up to 45% of pupils in schools like Glenswilly will be affected.
After meeting with the Minister for more than an hour, the deputations revealed that Minister Cannon will look at the charges again for the next school year in 2012.
Teacher Geraldine Galligan, who was also part of the delegation to the Minister, said they now had to take the Minister at his word.
“He did listen and he seemed genuinely concerned about our plight. He has told us he will review the situation for the next year.
“We probably have to accept that now and take the Minister at his word. But we will be here again next year if he is not true to his word,” she warned.
Letterkenny Town Mayor Gerry McMonagle said he hoped the Minister’s visit was not simply a talking exercise to ‘fob’ off parents and teachers.
“The amount of protesters here today shows that parents are simply at the end of their tether. They cannot afford any more charges.
“These are decent people who only want the best for their children and this Minister is slapping a penalty on them because they live in rural Ireland.
“He has said he will review the charge and I hope now that he is true to his word and that he is not simply fobbing these people off,” he said.