asked the Minister for Education if he is aware that, since the closing of Loughmuck national school, Fintown, County Donegal on the 3rd October 1963, three children of the family of Mr. John J. Quinn and another child have to travel a distance of five miles each way daily to Ballinamore national school over a windswept mountain road; and if he will subsidise transport to bring these children to Ballinamore national school.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Transport for County Donegal School-children.
I regret that under the provisions governing the transport of children to national schools it is not open to my Department to contribute towards the cost of the conveyance of such a small number of children.
My investigations in this case indicate that the four children concerned all live within 3½ miles from the nearest national school.
Is the Minister aware that these children are native Irish speakers in a fast diminishing Gaeltacht and that it is impossible for them to walk a distance of seven miles going to and from school? Is he further aware that it is merely a regulation of his Department which prevents him granting transport aid to these children and would he now consider giving even partial aid to the children's parents who are prepared to pay portion of the cost if the Minister will pay the balance?
The Deputy is talking about a wide principle which should be applied to the whole country. I could not make a rule for one case of three or four children, but the wide principles governing transport are reviewed from time to time.
Would the Minister say how many children are necessary to qualify for the transport grant-in-aid?
Exceptionally, as low as seven.
Would the Minister consider the fact that these children will remain illiterate unless some transport is provided? It is not their fault Loughmuck school was closed. It is now impossible for them to attend a school unless the Minister is prepared to do something. Would he again take the matter up with the manager if necessary, and arrange some transport of some description?
I shall examine it again, but I cannot make a rule for one school.
I am grateful to the Minister.