A PRIMARY school principal has warned that unless Cork City Council revises its school traffic warden policy, parents may be forced to disrupt city centre traffic with daily protests.
“We don’t want to have to protest, but if that’s what it takes to protect our children, then we will bring the city to a standstill,” Maura O’Riordan, principal of the Cork Educate Together NS on Grattan Street, told The Echo.
Ms O’Riordan had previously said that heavy volumes of traffic ignore her school’s pedestrian crossing every day, and that without a warden, it would be “only a matter of time before something terrible happens”.
Grattan Street has two one-way lanes outside the school, and Ms O’Riordan said the right-hand lane tends to have a backlog of traffic, while the left-hand lane tends to be freer flowing, with drivers focused on the traffic lights, vehicles stopped across the zebra crossing and children being forced to weave in and out of traffic.
Ms O’Riordan said her school had repeatedly applied for a traffic warden and had been told their application was refused due to lack of funding.
She said there had been a number of recent near-misses outside the school, and she had made several reports to An Garda Síochána.
Ms O’Riordan said she was inviting every city councillor to come to Grattan Street and witness the traffic children were forced to negotiate daily.
“If we do not get a clear commitment by Monday 16 April that Cork City Council (CCC) will review its school traffic warden policy, we will have no choice but to have a rolling protest on the pedestrian crossing every morning from 8.30am until 9am,” Ms O’Riordan said.
A spokesperson for CCC told The Echo school warden locations were selected historically and had remained unchanged for several years, with no extra funding made available.
“CCC [has] a fixed number of school warden posts and unfortunately all these posts are already deployed to schools across the city,” the spokesperson said.
“There are many schools across the city [without] a school warden and any requests for such a service are recorded and will be assessed and prioritised in the event that additional resources become available to fund additional school warden positions.”
An assessment of Grattan Street, carried out by CCC in November, recommended a number of short-term measures, costing an estimated €12,000.
These recommendations included the removal of a set-down area outside the school and the erection of bollards to prevent cars from parking outside the school, the replacement of the current flashing amber lights with brighter LED lights, and the repainting of the zebra crossing. The set-down area was removed three weeks ago, with bollards erected, and the zebra crossing has been repainted.
The report also contained a number of long-term recommendations, costing an estimated €50,000, including the building-out of the pavement and the installation of a raised zebra crossing, but the report noted that there was currently no budget for such works.