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Pupils from Gaelscoil Mhíchíl Cíosóg chatting with Minister Eamon Ryan, on their ‘walking bus’ to school Photography by Eugene McCafferty

GALLERY: Back to school for Minister Eamon Ryan in Ennis

IT was back to school for Environment Minister Eamon Ryan when he visited Ennis last week. The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport paid a visit to Gaelscoil Mhíchíl Cíosóg where he joined in with their walking bus.

The walking bus has proven to be a massive success with pupils at the Gort Road primary school since its introduction two years ago. And on Friday the Green Party Minister got to see first hand how the children have been doing their bit to help the environment by walking to school.

During the visit the minister also spoke with principal Dónal Ó hAiniféin on the importance of cycle lanes for the town, as well plans for the school’s new extension.

Mr Ó hAiniféin told us,“Like other schools we have been dealing with traffic issues for many years, the dropping off and pick up in those 15 or 20 minute period when things are quite busy.

“Instead of just dealing with the symptoms of traffic, about two years ago when my new deputy principal Sinéad Ní Éigní was appointed she started up, in conjunction with the parents, a walking
bus from the swimming pool. It has been very successful over the last number of years.”

The initiative has proven to be so successful, that there are hopes to start another walking bus from the Tulla Road side in the near future.

The visit of the minister came about following a phone-call from Green Party Senator Róisín Garvey. “She asked would we be interested in being accompanied on our walking bus, and of course we were delighted.”

While the walking bus is already a hit with the students, news of the special guest accompanying them led it to become even more popular on the day.

“The walking bus was like ten buses on that day because the story got out that Minister Ryan was going to be on it. We certainly had a lot more kids walking on it that day.” He added, “He was fantastic with the kids, one of the children played music for him and he was was really kind and caring.”

It wasn’t just the walking bus that Minister Ryan got to see as he also spoke with the principal as well as pupils and the school’s green committee.

Mr Ó hAiniféin says, “We managed to get 10 or 15 minutes with him before he left. He encouraged the green committee on the work they are doing in the school, reducing, reusing and recycling.

“We also spoke with him on the importance of developing cycle lanes, safe cycle lanes, and the investment needed in Ennis and other towns to enable children to walk safety to school. This is pushing an open door as far as he is concerned, he is all in favour and supportive of that.”

The future expansion of the school were also outlined to the minister, with plans for seven new classrooms, hall and early intervention rooms. It is hoped that building will begin next year, and Mr Ó hAiniféin said the school aims to make this new extension as green as possible.


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