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Taoiseach says Bus Éireann retirement policy ’causes issues in many constituencies and counties’

Portlaoise Bus Service

Taoiseach Simon Harris has said he “instinctively agrees” with a proposal to review the mandatory retirement age of 70 for bus drivers employed by or contracted to Bus Éireann for the provision school transport services.

It follows the confirmation from Minister for Education Norma Foley that a review was being undertaken by her own Department and the Department of Transport regarding the current Bus Eireann policy.

The proposal was raised in the Dáil by Independent TD for Laois/Offaly Carol Nolan, who has repeatedly highlighted the need a relaxation of the policy.

In his response to Deputy Nolan the Taoiseach stated his own view that the retirement age “causes issues in many constituencies and counties, including my own.”

Deputy Harris relayed an anecdote of a person in his constituency “who is willing and able to drive the bus but is told that, because of an arbitrary age on his or her birth certificate, he or she cannot drive the bus.”

The Taoiseach described the current situation as “offensive” to those concerned, and “problematic for our constituents who are trying to get their children to school.”

Deputy Nolan responded by saying Bus Éireann’s current retirement policy was “nothing short of discriminatory and counter-productive.”

“I do understand that the matter essentially involves Bus Éireann deferring to the views of the Road Safety Authority,” the Independent TD said.

“But as yet there is no clarity from the RSA on what precisely its objections are, particularly where a driver is medically and professionally fit to continue working and who indeed wants to work.

“We need this issue firmly and fully resolved, not least because as the data in the recent School Transport Scheme 2030 report makes clear, an additional 100,000 pupils are expected to be taken into the scheme by 2030.

“There is simply no point in waiting for the summer for to pass before action is taken and the policy changed. It has dragged on for long enough.

“We need all departments and the RSA to work collaboratively on this issue before August when the annual scramble for seats on school transport takes place.”

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