A CORK TD has accused the Taoiseach of showing “no empathy” to a city centre school campaigning for a traffic warden.
Thomas Gould, Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central raised in the Dáil last week the issue of Cork Educate Together NS of Grattan Street, which is campaigning for Cork City Council to allocate a school traffic warden to the school.
The school is located on a busy city centre street, and the school’s principal, Maura O’Riordan, has said she is deeply concerned that, without a school traffic warden, it is “only a matter of time before something terrible happens”.
Cork City Council has said 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,” a spokesperson said.
Raising the matter in the Dáil under “Questions on Policy and Legislation”, Deputy Gould told Taoiseach Micheál Martin there were “serious concerns about road safety for the students”.
The Taoiseach replied: “That is a matter for the local authority”, adding: “That is why we have a city council”.
When told by Deputy Gould that the council did not have funding for a traffic warden for Grattan Street, the Taoiseach replied that local authorities had been given €360 million to cover walking and cycling.
“Dáil Éireann, genuinely, cannot pronounce on school wardens,” Mr Martin said.
“Surely the local authority will find the funding to deal with this issue, which is a matter for it in the first instance.” Speaking to The Echo, Deputy Gould said he had explained to the Taoiseach that staff and parents at Cork Educate Together were deeply concerned for the safety of children.
“Instead of engaging on the issue, pointing to available funds or agreeing to instruct the Minister for Transport to liaise with Cork City Council, the Taoiseach dismissed the dangers faced by children and parents as a matter for the local authority,” Mr Gould claimed, adding that Cork City Council lacks funding to provide a warden.
“The Taoiseach then pointed to Sustainable Transport Funding as a bulk of money given by Government to encourage walking and cycling.
“This dismissive attitude shows a profound lack of understanding or empathy about the real barriers people face when walking or cycling,” Deputy Gould said.
“Traffic wardens, safe road crossings and traffic calming do not fall within the remit of that funding stream, despite road safety continuously posing the largest barrier to getting people out of cars and walking or cycling,” Mr Gould added.
A spokesperson for the Taoiseach told The Echo: “As the Taoiseach said in the Dáil, this is a matter for Cork City Council.
“Resources are provided to local authorities and no doubt there is a capacity to get these issues resolved.”