State to ask Supreme Court to strike out school bus appeal
Challenge is to Bus Éireann’s exclusive right to operate €160m-a-year transport service
The High Court ruled against the company’s original claim that the schools service should be put out to tender on the basis that the relationship between the Department of Education and Bus Éireann is not a commercial contract. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The Department of Education plans to ask the Supreme Court, on Friday, to strike out a challenge to Bus Éireann’s exclusive right to operate the €160-million- a-year school transport service. It claims abuse of process by the organisation involved.
Student Transport Scheme (STS), backed by US multinational Navistar and Galway businessman Enda O’Coineen, is appealing a High Court ruling which said the department does not have to put the schools service out to tender in line with EU public procurement practice.
‘Abuse of process’ claim
In its motion before the Supreme Court, the department plans to call for the appeal to be struck out, claiming STS has delayed in preparing its case.
It is understood the department also says STS has engaged in campaigns against it and State-owned Bus Éireann in newspapers and with public representatives that amount to an abuse of process.
STS is likely to oppose the motion. It is understood it will argue that it is entitled to engage with news papers and public representatives.
The High Court ruled against the company’s original claim that the schools service should be put out to tender on the basis that the relationship between the department and Bus Éireann is not a commercial contract, but an administrative arrangement between two arms of the State.
This was partly based on the fact that the department reimburses the company, which does not make a profit, and can unilaterally cut the funding available.