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Ukrainian Ambassador Larysa Gerasko during her visit to meet members of the new Ukrainian community in Lisdoonvarna. Councililor Joe Garrihy said "The visit of the ambassador and her meeting with the mayor and the Council CEO and all of the public representatives and the community is proof of the willingness and the goodwill that exists.”

School bus hitch for Ukrainian arrivals in North Clare


ASSURANCES have been given on the arrangements for school transport for Ukrainian pupils who have recently arrived in North Clare.

Among them are 26 children who have been welcomed into St Augustines National School in Kilshanny. They are part of a group of around 500 people to take up residence in Lisdoonvarna in recent weeks.

More than 100 children are being provided with educational facilities, based on availability in neighbouring schools. While the new arrivals were provided with private bus transport for a number of days, the Department of Education has not made any formal provision yet and the children have no other way to get to the school, which is around seven kilometres away.

Councillor Joe Garrihy said Lisdoonvarna Fáilte are prepared to do all in their power to welcome new arrivals and ease their access to local services.

We have been searching behind every hedge for bus transport and everyone has been really cooperative, however we did have a situation where we had a bus, but only had a driver available for a limited time.”

We are doing everything we can to address the situation and given that there are 150 children who arrived to North Clare in the last fortnight and theyre now in school, things have been going pretty well. People have extended an incredible welcome and we have had so many offers of help and support. We are working night and day and there will be some minor issues that will be need to be ironed out.”

Senator Martin Conway, who said he had been very moved by the sight of over 100 children singing the Ukrainian national anthem for their ambassador, in recent days, agreed that it will take time to get the logistics right.

To be honest, I think the school transport issue is not about money,” he said. The government has made it clear that support will be provided. There are certain logistical challenges if children are living in Lisdoonvarna but going to school elsewhere and everything possible is being done to support them.

“The visit of the Ukrainian ambassador and her meeting with the mayor and the Council CEO and all of the public representatives and the community is proof of the willingness and the goodwill that exists.”

Senator Róisín Garvey said she believed Minister Eamon Ryan would help to resolve the issue.

I have raised this with him and will contact the Department of Education too. School Transport is run by the Department of Education. They’re looking at the issue. Eamon Ryan’s Department is looking at Local Link series for people in hotels outside rural areas unrelated to schools. In North Clare, people want to help and we can look at car pooling too.”

The Green Party member said there were huge benefits from welcoming Ukrainians to rural Clare.

They are fleeing a desperate situation and everyone here wants to help,” she said.

They are bringing lots of vibrancy and there will be many who will take up jobs in sectors like hospitality, where we are seeing a huge shortage of people. I know several employers who are delighted to be able to get their services.”

In response to a question from Deputy Cathal Crowe, who highlighted the issue of school provision in the Dáil, Education Minister Norma Foley said places are being allocated on the basis of availability. She outlined how figures on school capacity are available to the Department based on enrolment data.

In a statement, The Department of Education said it is working with all relevant authorities, education partners and school communities to ensure Ukrainian children of school-going age, who are beneficiaries of the Temporary Protection Directive, are provided with access to appropriate supports to allow them to continue their education in Ireland.

“The department is putting in place a process to facilitate the provision of School Transport Scheme Services for children arriving to Ireland from Ukraine. Further details will be available shortly on gov.ie/Ukraine”.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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