McGrath says all drivers should be used to tackle school transport issues

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The Government has been accused by a Tipperary TD of discriminating against people over 70.

Rural Independent Group leader Mattie McGrath raised the issue in the Dáil this week pointing out that once someone reaches that age they are not allowed to drive a school bus.

The Newcastle based TD pointed out that there is no age restriction on them bringing children to sports events such as matches or swimming.

Deputy McGrath says at a time when the school transport system is in chaos all available drivers should be utilised.

“Many companies have two or three drivers who are approaching 70 and they will no longer be able to carry children to school when they reach 70.

“This is discrimination – we’ve raised this countless times. Minister Hildegarde Naughton said that they were going looking at it and going to change it.

“They’re willing to do two medicals a year or three if necessary – it’s not a question of having unsafe people driving. These people are retired and like to do part time work, are fit, well and able to do it and provide a very valuable link in the situation.”

The leader of the Rural Independent Group says at a time when the school transport system is at breaking point every available driver should be used once they are medically fit to do so.

Deputy Mattie McGrath called on the government to rectify the anomaly which allows people of that age to drive a bus bringing children to matches or swimming but not to school.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he would raise the issue with the Department of Transport.

“I have sympathy with the Deputy’s position on this issue and what you’re advocating. Obviously there were safety reasons why that age limit was brought in in the first instance but the world has moved on in the sense that people are living longer and living better quality of lives as they age and I think that should be taken into consideration.

“I know the Minister is looking at that so I will engage with the Minister again on it.”