Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Schoolchildren's safety compromised by money

NEAR the end of the working day yesterday, a dreadful and devastating news story began to break. It emerged that a school bus overturned while swerving to avoid a two-car collision with the devastating and sad loss of five young lives.

We can only imagine the grief suffered by the five young girls’ families, their friends, schools and communities. All five are believed to be aged between 13 and 16 and all came from the same school despite there being students from three schools on the bus.

Many media commentators have been remarking how news of the crash is every parent’s nightmare and I don’t think that even goes far enough to describe the horror of the crash. It happened at a time when the young people should have been looking forward to an evening with their families and friends, or studying for forthcoming exams and instead, their families are preparing for what will probably be one of the hardest days of their lives, their daughter’s funeral. It breaks your heart.

I was in tears watching the news last night listening to the girl’s devastated neighbours. They come from communities where everyone knows everyone, where everyone would have watched the girls grow from babies to young women and now they have to prepare to mourn the loss of five young lives. My thoughts are with them as are the thoughts of the country and beyond.

The crash does raise some questions and while it feels in bad taste to be shouting about them now, they must be addressed without delay. This includes the issue of seatbelts, there were none on the schoolbus, as well as the wider question of safety on our roads. A report in one of the papers today said the bottom line concerns money

Excerpt from article in Irish Independent, May 24, 2005
“THE Government is refusing to make seat belts on all school buses compulsory and to scrap the controversial 'three children for every two seats' arrangement because of the massive costs involved, the Irish Independent has learned.
An unpublished report warns that the sudden abolition of the three-for-two regulation would create an urgent need for additional vehicles.
More than 40,000 adult seats would be required which would mean an extra 880 large vehicles would be needed - at a cost of €57m.”

Link to full story, requires registration but is a free news website

It is an absolute disgrace that the safety of our children comes down to money. It is also worth bearing in mind, if this is indeed true and it wouldn’t surprise me at all, that this is the same Government who this time last year, scrapped electronic voting which no one wanted, after spending €50+m. This is the same Government which spent approx €15m on a full grant for the already fabulously rich horsey set at Punchestown. This is also the Government that continues to allow our primary school children to share their dilapidated schools with rats and will not fork out the money to bring our schools up to a safe standard.

Let the Government tell that to the families who could be comforting their child in hospital as opposed to burying them if seat belts were fitted on the bus. The money is there, but the political will isn’t.

Shame on them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How sad it seems our society never seems to put children in first or even at all for all thinking process. Why else all the educators seems to earn the least amount all other jobs!?! Sad sad sad!!