Angry protests at Brollagh as children lose free pass

On the second day of the new school year, parents and students of St Mary’s high School Brollagh took part in a protest following claims that almost a quarter of students have had their school bus passes withdrawn.
The Education Authority sent letters to around 17 students last week stating that the bus route had been reorganised due to ‘operational reasons’ and children who live within three miles from the school are not eligible for free transport.
Up to 45 parents and children walked a dangerous 2km stretch on the B52 road from Belleek to the school at 8.30am yesterday morning (Tuesday) to object to the decision and to highlight the dangerous condition of the road.
Parent Fionn Travers took part in the protest and said that the road particularly the last mile is not suitable for children to use due to the dangerous bends and volume of traffic.
“They are asking us to take risks with our children’s lives on a road that is clearly unsuitable. We want to show the EA that the road is clearly unsafe and I would not even cycle it myself or walk it and it is too far and too dangerous.
“The purpose of the march was to show just how dangerous this road can be.”
Ms Travers also added that the withdrawal of concessionary passes will lead to ‘an enormous financial strain’ for parents.
“If we take a taxi it costs £10 per day and that is a total of £50 per week and that is in addition to paying dinner money and of course this is a very expensive time for parents getting their children ready for school.”
Jane Weir, chairman of the St Mary’s High School Parents Council added that parents are relying on the bus service and do not have another way of getting their children to school.
“The school is on a dangerous road and children cannot be expected to walk along this road.
“It seems to be those living near Belleek or under three miles away from the school who are impacted. The parents council is disgusted at this last minute decision by the Education Authority that impacts so many children at this very important time in the academic year.
“As we walked on Tuesday morning, one EA bus passed us with one child on board, while another passed us with 14 children on board.”

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