By Sean Murphy

Road safety group A-CEART confident it is making great progress with its latest campaign for larger school lockers so children will wear lifesaving safety helmets.

Mary Clinton of Action Campaign for Education Against Road Tragedies (A-CEART) is waiting on a response from Education Minister Richard Bruton on submissions it has made to him.

The group has also contacted several TDs and is now having its case promoted by Donegal TD, Charlie McConalogue.

Mary said: “Deputy McConalogue has submitted a question to Minister Bruton on my behalf.

“We are now waiting on a reply and we are hoping to get a meeting with the minister so that we can push home the seriousness of this issue.

“It is about saving lives. The minister’s office has already emailed me and told me that the Department is looking into my research on the matter.

“We are confident that we are making progress on this issue.”

Mary began her campaign after schoolchildren’s parents petitioned her to warn that the kids are not wearing cycle helmets because their lockers are not big enough to store the safety headgear away from thieves.

Schools in Donegal, and across the country have admitted to the mother-of-four, from Letterkenny, that their lockers are too small.

Bicycle helmets for 15 year olds measure a standard 32.5cm in length, but some schools say their lockers have only 31cm depth – meaning the helmets do not fit.

Mary, who set up her group in 2004, following several road deaths in Inishowen, said: “The costs of installing bigger lockers are as yet unknown, but the manufacturers would negotiate this with the Department.

“This is a hugely important issue.”

Safety figures show that cyclists are almost three times more likely to suffer severe head trauma in a crash if they do not wear a helmet, according to studies.

The originally aim was for all of Ireland’s 723 secondary schools to be fitted with special lockers.

But early responses to A-CEART indicate that the estimated €170 cost of these twin, two-person lockers may not be met by the Government, although the Department of Education has confirmed that it does finance the purchase of school lockers.

An alternative option, according to campaigners, would be for the school children to fund the lockers by paying a fee of around €10 a year.

A-CEART’s campaign can be followed on the a-ceart.com website that is linked to Facebook and Twitter.

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