A group of around 50 people, including students and parents, are protesting in Co Meath today over school bus places. 

They walked the almost 10km route from Kildalkey to their school in Trim. 

They claim some of the students have no place on the school bus.

Bus Éireann says it is because they are ineligible for the school transport scheme. 

The students are ineligible because they are not attending the closest school to them in Athboy. 

Students and their parents walked with placards to highlight their plight. 

They say they have tried to contact Minister John Halligan to resolve the matter.    

A spokesperson from the Department of Transport said this afternoon that, while a limited number of concessionary school bus seats are available for children deemed ineligible under the scheme, these tickets are allocated by random selection undertaken by Bus Éireann and a number of children from Kildalkey had been unsuccessful and had not been allocated a ticket.

The spokesperson said: "The purpose of the scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school."

It continued: "Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who completed the application process on time, will be considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats.

"Where the number of applications for school transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of spare seats available, tickets are allocated using a random selection process. 

"Bus Éireann has confirmed that, following the random selection process for concessionary seats, a number of children from the Kildalkey area who are not eligible for school transport to Trim have not been allocated a ticket." 

According to figures from the Department of Education, 32,100 applications have been made for 'concessionary' tickets. 

Of these, the Department says only 25,785 are "valid" and to date 25,530 have been issued. In total, 116,000 students travel on the student transport scheme. 

In a statement last week Bus Eireánn said: "Many families are deemed ineligible to Trim Post Primary Centre as they reside nearer to another Post Primary Centre. In such cases the families can apply for concessionary school transport."

"The availability of concessionary transport may vary from year to year, is not available on public scheduled services and cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child's post primary school education cycle.

"Where the number of applications for transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of seats available, Bus Éireann will determine the allocation of the tickets.  

"The number of concessionary pupils offering for transport exceeded the number of seats available and a random selection was carried out and some families were not successful. It is not open to Bus Éireann to establish a service for Concessionary pupils."