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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Remote Area Grant


Minister, I mentioned the remote area grant back in September. That grant is available, although

a lot of people may not even know it is, for people who are living outside the distances of the

school. I asked for an increase in the payment rate on that grant? Fuel has gone up. The daily

rate is currently €1.30 for children living between 3.2 km and 4.7 km from the school. If

someone is 9.7 km away they can get €5.10 a day.

Has there been any progress on increasing the daily rates? This would take a little bit of

pressure off parents as well. That grant is paid annually. Is there any way it could be paid each

term? In light of the cost-of-living crisis, is there any way these applications could be submitted

after each of the three school terms? That might also alleviate the pressure on parents

somewhat.

But now, possibly from the advertisement I gave the grant, I hear from people who are applying

for it that they’re finding it almost impossible.

It is important to note that an application for school transport must be made

before a Remote Area Grant may be considered.

Sign up on the Bus Éireann website for school transport is not user friendly at all — the “Apply

for School Transport” page has no sign up button, just a wall of text, and hidden in the middle of

that it tells you to make an account to apply.

Why make it so difficult? Just have a form there, or a big button — Bus Éireann should change

this immediately.

Bus Éireann operates the school transport scheme on behalf of the Department — no-one can

reach them, or the section of the Department responsible for administering the scheme.

I looked into it online yesterday, and it’s not clear at all how to apply, or where to apply to —

you’d be forgiven for thinking the Department didn’t actually want anyone availing of this grant,

and was hiding it away.

How many children are in receipt of this grant? How many applications are made, granted and

refused each year? Can we get some transparency on this?

Parents all over the country are reporting that they don’t know where to start applying, they can’t

find the form, they’re being given the runaround — are we running this scheme or are we not?

Hopefully, Minister, you can tell me today how the administration of this grant is going to be

improved.

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