Aa proposal to charge €500 for school bus fees would create huge hardship for many Clare families.

Such charges would impact unfairly on families in rural areas of County Clare where there are little other options but to take the bus.

Currently, primary school children travel on the school bus for free, whilst secondary school pupils are charged €300. This figures has already increased significantly in recent years.

Proposals contained in the McCarthy Report suggest charging all pupils, both primary and secondary, €500 per annum. Government are now said to be considering this in the course of pre-budget discussions.

“It is incredible that government would even consider this at such at difficult time for families. I know from contact in my office that many Clare parents are very concerned at any rise in school transport fees. The current McCarthy proposals would see a 500% rise in charges for primary school children and an almost 50% rise for post primary. These are hugely excessive increases.”

He added:

“These proposed charges hit families in areas such as County Clare most. With a proposal such as this you really have to wonder why the Green party are in power at all? Increasing school transport costs will undoubtedly lead to an increase in the number of private cars on the road. We should be encouraging public transport in every way we can, not prohibiting it with increased charges.”

He said:

“Should these charges be brought in, it would also effectively demolish the notion of free education for primary schoolchildren in rural Ireland. While government is bailing out banks ordinary working families are once again being burdened with the errors of the past decade.”