A vastly experienced school bus driver has expressed fears that a child will be killed or seriously injured because of parents bad parking at an east Meath primary school where one of Meath’s All Ireland winning Ladies team teaches.
John Shiels, from Duleek, whos company does the school run at Realt Na Mara school in Donacarney also told Meath Live about the constant verbal abuse he gets from parents, men and women, if he asks them to move badly parked cars so he can access the school to collect the kids.
Shiels also revealed that parents engage in a very dangerous pratice known as ‘tailgating’ at a barrier designed to allow buses and special needs transport into the school.
Our exclusive photo taken yesterday shows a man confronting a bus driver after abandoning his car on the approach roundabout
Shiels said, ‘ There is a roundabout near the school entrance and when parents park there it is impossible for us to get the bus around it, we have a vehicle that we use which has no lock on the steering wheel so there is just no way we can get through.
‘There is one particular guy who just abandons his Mercedes there every time, he seems to think it is his own personal parking spot, and I’ll give you an example of how he behaves.
‘On Thursday of this week he did it again, I asked him to move and he stood beside the bus and told me to f**k off, I asked him again and he told me to reverse back but directly behind me a group of children were practicing a welcome routine for Orla Byrne the lady footballer who is bringing the cup around today, so how could I reverse.
‘I actually thought the bloke was going to hit me so I stayed on the bus to avoid any confrontation.
‘The problem escalates when he parks there because ten others follow suit, and the abuse you get if you ask them to move…………..well you can just imagine it.
‘I’m genuinely concerned I’ll seriously injure a child, or do even worse, I am not scaremongering when I say that it is a real concern.’
Shiels fears are raised further by a practice that has emerged recently.
He revealed,’ There is an automatic barrier there which is raised to allow school buses and people collecting special needs kids through, parents have now started tailgating my bus, which means they drive right up the back of it, so as they can shoot through before the barrier comes down and then they can drive out the exit designed for buses.
‘If my engine cuts out or if I have to stop suddenly, or even worse if the barrier comes down very quickly they are going to be hurt.
‘I appreciate the school have messaged parents about this before but the message is being ignored, why should a driver have to get off his bus to ask badly parked cars to move that only leads to confrontation and there is no need for that.’
Meath Live has learned that the problem is not a new one.
As far back as 2019, Meath County Council’s Road Safety Officer, Michael Finnegan wrote a strongly worded letter to the school about it.
Finnegan said, ‘We have witnessed cars having extreme difficulty in exiting the school grounds because the road is blocked with illegally parked vehicles, what we have witnessed particularly in the afternoons leaves us extremely concerned for the safety of children.
‘We have seen cars parked in the bus bays which is forbidden and if the present disregard for road safety regulations and road sfatey in general continues outside your school the Gardai will be asked to enforce the regulations in the area.’
In response, in September 2019 the school took a proactive role by contacting parents by letter.
It stated, ‘ At the 3.00 pick up we have have witnessed many drivers behaving in a very careless and inconsiderate manner, their actions are dangerous and in breach of our health and safety regulations.’.
It goes on to underline the ban on parking at the roundabout, saying in capital letters,NB; PARKING ON THE ROUNDABOUT AT ANY TIME OF DAY IS FORBIDDEN.
However John Shiels concluded, ‘The school has spoken to the parents and told them straight what is happening is wrong but sadly they have been ignored, two years on from those letters the problem is worse.’
The school has been contacted for comment.
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