In a stinging attack on the Education Minister and his Labour colleagues, Donegal North East TD Charlie McConalogue (FF) said cuts to supports for 42,500 children with special needs are “disrimination against the most vulnerable children in the school system”.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has called on the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn to d be up-front about cuts to teaching supports for children with special needs.
He said: “No amount of spin or massaging of figures can hide the fact that 42,500 children with special needs will be hit with a cut in support from September” and that the Minister must “own his decision” to make the cuts.
Deputy McConalogue slammed what he called a “deafening silence” from Labour backbenchers and the party on the issue. “On the same day the special needs cut was announced, the Labour Party issued twelve press releases about the government’s u-turn on Coillte. But not one single statement was issued about the 12% cut in resource teaching hours – a cut that was approved by a Labour Minister three weeks previously.”
He accused the Minister of making the decision “in the dark”.
“Was Minister Quinn just hoping that no one would notice that tens of thousands of children with disabilities would lose up to half an hour of teaching a week?
“Whatever way you look at it, this is a discrimination against the most vulnerable children in the school system. There is no excuse for increasing mainstream teacher numbers in accordance with the increase in the student population, while deliberately deciding to leave children with special needs with a 12% reduction in teaching hours in September. “Not only will there be a profound impact on pupils with severe disabilities, the entire classroom environment will be affected.
“It is not too late to put a stop to this. Government Deputies will have an opportunity to do the right thing next week when Fianna Fáil tables a Dáil motion demanding a full reversal of what is clearly an indefensible cut.”