The school bus regulators in Northern Ireland have responded to claims by People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann on behalf of Bready busman William Leonard that he has been unfairly treated to the advantage of bus firms from the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Leonard contends that European Union ‘cabotage’ laws governing extra-jurisdictional transport contracts by foreign firms weren’t implemented allowing firms from outside Londonderry to secure local school bus contracts putting him out of business.
But a Department of Infrastrcture (DI) spokesman said: “The European Commission has not provided any official guidance on bus cabotage.
“In July 2011, as a result of concerns raised by NI bus operators about the extent of cabotage in the North West by Irish bus operators, the former DOE began an investigation. In July 2013, following engagement with the Department for Transport in London, research into European Court of Justice case law and having met with Commission Officials, DOE published guidance for those seeking to procure or undertake bus cabotage operations. This guidance is still current.“
A spokesperson for the Education Authority said: “All contracts awarded are in accordance with set terms and conditions. One of the requirements is that applicants hold a valid Road Service Operator’s Licence within the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.”