Minister’s unwillingness to help Sherkin Island pupils “is appalling” claims TD

Cork South West TD, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that she is appalled by the Minister for Education’s response to her when she raised the issue of children on Sherkin Island needing a chaperone on the ferry in order for them to get to school.

The Fianna Fáil TD raised the issue with the Minister via a special Dáil debate on Wednesday, 27th September and appealed to the Minister to consider funding a chaperone on the ferry to ensure that the young children are minded and can get to school safe.

“The Minister was having none of it, I’m afraid. He was very unwilling to consider any sort of support on the ferry.

“It’s a very disappointing response from Minister Bruton. The community on Sherkin Island accepted last year that their school would close due to low numbers.

“The very least they can expect is the Department of Education to support the children while travelling to school on the mainland.

“The Minister was clearly unwilling to consider the special circumstances facing the children while travelling to the mainland for school.

“Unlike 99.99% of other situations, these young children will be travelling over water and not land, and the risks involved are substantial enough, in my mind, to warrant the department funding a chaperone.

“An additional five children are due to start primary school in the next number of years. The number of children travelling by ferry will continue to increase. A chaperone is needed to safeguard their welfare.

“If the Government are serious about ensuring that island communities remain vibrant, Minister Bruton needs to find a solution. Without a solution, parents will be left with no other option but to move to the mainland. That would be a terrible end result,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.