Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Lewsley grasping at straws highlights growing desperation of a party that has nothing to say except in attacking Sinn Féin

31 October, 2003

Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has dismissed Patricia Lewsley claim that Martin McGuinness did not deliver for children with special educational needs.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Martin McGuinness made children with special educational needs a priority. While recognising that there was much more to do Martin McGuinness delivered for children with special educational needs.

"Patricia Lewsley I suspect has ignored the draft Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill that was jointly published by Martin McGuinness's department and the Department of Employment and Learning (where one of her colleagues was a Minster). This legislation was "a first but vital step in putting in place legislation to address the requirements of our young people who have special educational needs and disabilities" and specifically intended to give school pupils and students here the same rights with regard to access to schools and further and higher education institutions as the 2001 legislation in Britain. The collapse of the institutions impeded the progress of this legislation as well other important decisions taken by Martin McGuinness such as the decision to end the 11+.

"However Martin McGuinness took significant steps in relation to autism and dyslexia through the Task Group reports in these areas, in initiating the development of an all-Ireland Centre of Excellence for Autism in Middletown, Armagh and an unprecedented investment in new schools for special educational needs which can be seen in new schools rights across the north.

"Patricia Lewsley is wrong. She is being dishonest and she is grasping at straws. This attack only highlights the growing desperation of a party that has nothing to say except in attacking Sinn Féin." ENDS

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