A native of Urris who now works as a University Professor in England has challenged Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan and other government representatives to go over Mamore gap in both directions in a 52 seater coach which is twenty years old.
Jimmy Donaghy, Proffessor of Industrial Relations at the University of Warwick wrote to the minister to protest at changes to the school transport scheme which, he says gives parents in the area a stark choice.
Either pay up to €650 to send their children to Carndonagh Community School, as they have done up to now, or else send their children to School in Buncrana through the treacherous route over Mamore Gap.
In his letter, Mr Donaghey says he as shocked and saddened at hear at what he terms the government's disregard for the needs and wishes of the people of Urris.
He says while he was home at Christmas, a native of Urris who was living near Buncrana died, and people from Urris attending the funeral had to travel via Clonmany as the Mamore Gap was impassable due to frost.
Mr Donaghy asks the minister if she is prepared to risk the safety of school children going over a mountain road like this during winter. If an accident occurs, he asks, will Minister O'Sullivan be willing to take responsibility for the welfare of these students?
He adds that Urris is one of the most economically deprived rural areas in Ireland, and historically he says, lower numbers from Urris go onto University than from bigger towns. He says the government should facilitate the education of people from economically deprived areas, rather than place hurdles in their path.
The letter in full :
Dear Minister O’Sullivan,
I am shocked and saddened to hear about the way in which the government is completely disregarding the needs and wishes of the people of Urris, Clonmany, Co.Donegal. Though now working in England, I am a native of Urris and frequently visit Urris. As you will know, parents of people from Urris are being given the choice of paying up to €650 to send their children to Carndonagh Community School or else send their children to School in Buncrana through the treacherous route over Mamore Gap. The route is completely inappropriate for bussing students to school- one side of the Gap is a corkscrew route, the other side is a 2km, steep gradient drop, only passable by cars going one way at a time. At Christmas when I was at home visiting my mother, a native of Urris who was married and living on the other side of the gap in Desertegney died and all the people from Urris attending the funeral had to go the longer route through Clonmany as the Gap was impassable due to frost. Many natives of Urris never use the road due to its nature. Are you prepared to risk the safety of school children going over a mountain road like this during winter? If an accident occurs, will you be willing to take responsibility for the welfare of these students? If this route is not used, then Carndonagh is much closer than Buncrana.
However, this is not just a problem for the people of Urris but demonstrates a threat to life in rural Ireland being posed by the current government. Urris is one of the most economically deprived rural areas in Ireland. Historically, lower numbers from Urris go onto University than from local towns like Clonmany, Carndonagh and Moville. I realise you came from a different social background and attended a fee paying school, but as someone who completely depended on state support to go to School, I believe it is the duty of the Minister for Education and Skills to facilitate the education of people from economically deprived areas, rather than placing hurdles in their path. I ask you to stop this nonsense and stop the anxiety your Department’s actions are causing for the parents and children of Urris. As Minister for Education and Skills, the buck stops with you. To blame Bus Eireann is nonsensical and hiding behind the cloak of bureaucracy: Dysfunctional bureaucracy is the fault of the ultimate designer, not the implementer.
As a final point, if you refuse to stop this nonsense, you owe the people of Urris one thing- you should come to Urris with other government TDs and Senators and go over and back Mamore gap in a 52 seater coach of at least twenty years old to show that you believe the route is safe for the children of Urris.
Professor of Industrial Relations,
University of Warwick,