By Sean Murphy

A high profile road safety campaigner is launching a new national drive for larger schools lockers so children will wear lifesaving safety helmets.

If successful, it could result in the biggest shake-up in school cycling safety in years.

Mary Clinton of A-CEART is exclusively announcing her campaign in the Inish Times today before taking it nationwide.

She is set to lobby the Education Minister Richard Bruton and the Road Safety Authority after schoolchildren’s parents petitioned her to warn that kids are not wearing helmets because their lockers are not big enough to store the safety headgear away from thieves.

Schools in Inishowen, 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.

A-CEART campaigner Mary, who set up her group in 2004, following several road deaths in Inishowen, is now seeking urgent meetings with Minister Bruton.

She told the Inish Times: “This is a national issue.

“The aim is for all school lockers’ minimum size – the one that fits bicycle helmets – to be the regulation size, so all school lockers can accommodate these safety helmets.

“Otherwise, what’s the point in encouraging children to cycle to school if you are not going to allow then to do it safely?

“I was made aware of the problem in schools in Dublin, firstly, so I contacted schools in Inishowen and Donegal.

“I have had responses from several, including Buncrana and Carndonagh.

“I want to meet with the Department of Education and the Road Safety Authority about this.

“Manufactures of school lockers have told me that the standard cloakroom lockers are not large enough.

“They recommend a locker called a twin-two-person locker and they have sent me examples of these. It would be used by two pupils.

“The costs are as yet unknown, but the manufacturers would negotiate this with the Department.

“This is a hugely important issue. Calls to make bicycle helmets compulsory have been made in the Dail at least 14 times in the last 15 years.”

For the full story, see this week's Inish Times 

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