June 22, 2022
Ombudsman’s report highlights government’s scandalous failure to provide special needs education – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has criticised the government’s ongoing failure to deliver appropriate special education.

His comments follow the publication of a report by the Ombudsman for Children, which found that the State is failing children with special educational needs who cannot secure appropriate school places.

Speaking today, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“The Ombudsman’s report is shocking and highlights the ongoing scandal around special education school places that has been happening in plain sight under this government’s watch for years. 

“The government is totally failing these children. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Just last week, Sinn Féin brought a motion to the Dáil last week on this very issue calling for emergency legislation and improved forward planning to ensure this crisis ends, but the government refused to use that opportunity to act. The government’s excuses on this important issue are wearing very thin and families feel totally let down and unsupported.

“These children are being denied their constitutional right to an appropriate education. Special Education is not being given the respect and place it deserves. Families are being subject to unnecessary stress and uncertainty.

“I welcome the Ombudsman’s report, and he and his office’s work on this, which I know was informed by complaints made by families affected by this issue, campaigning for adequate provision for special education in September. It adds to the weight of evidence that demonstrates how these children are being failed, and I hope it brings renewed urgency to a severe, and indeed emergency situation. 

“The fact is that the Department and the NCSE constantly wait until the 11th hour, before acting far too late. The Department should be planning at least a year if not 2 years in advance for adequate school places. They have the information, they have the powers and they have the budget. There are no excuses for the failures of Minister Foley and Minister of State Madigan to make adequate preparations to ensure every child had an appropriate school place.

“Without emergency legislation to streamline the section 37A process, it is incredibly unlikely new special classes will be ready for September. 

“This is an emergency situation, which requires an emergency response. 

“Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for children with special educational needs and their families, and ensure that every child has access to education, as is their right. Nothing less is acceptable.”

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