Concerns over bus safety to be raised with Western Board

PACEMAKER BELFAST   22/09/14 'The scene of the school bus crash on the Omagh Road in Drumquin on Monday morning of last week.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 22/09/14 'The scene of the school bus crash on the Omagh Road in Drumquin on Monday morning of last week.

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Derry City Council is to seek a meeting with the Western Education and Library Board over safety on school buses.

The move was agreed upon at the September monthly meeting of the Derry-Strabane Supercouncil.

DUP Councillor Maurice Devenney said his party’s representatives had been contacted by several parents raising concerns about safety matters with regards to school transport, in the wake of the crash involving 52 people- most of them schoolchildren - from the Castlederg area of the new council.

Colr. Devenney said: “I was contacted by a number of parents in relation to bus travel. We’re all aware in Londonderry and Strabane of the recent accident in the Castlederg area.

“We have had a number of parents raising concerns about seat-belts, three sitting on two seats. One of the biggest concerns is that bus services still remain our young kids going to school are allowed to stand on the bus.

“I think in light of what happened, it would be prudent of us as a council to have a meeting with representatives of the Western Education and Library Board just to have questions asked.”

UUP Councillor for the Castlederg area, Derek Hussey, said: “I share the concerns that have been expressed by Councillor Devenney.

“One thing we have to be aware of within the Western Education and Library, their fleet has seen a major upgrade and I have no hesitation in saying this is probably the most modern fleet of buses within the whole of Northern Ireland.

“The issue of three on two seats would not apply here, so essentially we’re talking about Translink or private hire.”

He added that it would still be worth meeting with the board regarding non-WELB transport.

Mr Hussey said he also wanted to congratulate the driver of the bus involved in the incident “for her fortitude in the incident and the way she handled the incident”.

Chairman of the council, Sinn Fein Councillor Maoliosa McHugh said he knew some of the children who were on the bus which overturned personally. “We are very, very fortunate there wasn’t a more serious injury,” he said, adding that discussions on safety would be very welcome with the organisations like the board.

The school bus incident happened on the Omagh Road in Drumquin last Monday.Those onboard were treated at Altnagelvin and the South West Acute, but none were seriously injutred.