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Upcoming budget must reverse attack on special needs education – Ó Snodaigh

25 March, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD


Speaking in the Dáil today on pre-budget statements Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said the upcoming budget must rectify and reverse the recent Fianna Fáil and Green Party attack on children with special educational needs.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh called for the budget to be used ultimately to remove the pension levy.

He said, “The upcoming budget must rectify and reverse the recent Fianna Fáil and Green Party attack on children with special educational needs.

“Last month I received many emails from Parents, Teachers and Students in my constituency who were angered and despaired by the abolition of special needs classes.  Hundreds of children were directly hit by this cut which saw them loose the vital support they need to achieve a robust education and literally thousands more children will be impacted due to the extraordinary additional pressure that teachers in already overcrowded mainstream classes will now come under.  This cut amounts to robbing children of their future, all for a paltry saving of 6 million euros while executives of publicly guaranteed banks are walking around with million euro bonuses and multi-million euro pensions.

“I asked the Minister for Education Batt O’Keefe to point to any educational rationale to underpin his ruthless decision.  He could not do so.  Rather he claims that the needs of these children will be adequately met in mainstream classes with limited Learning Support.  That is a lie.

“This Budget should be used as an opportunity to reverse the special needs education cuts and reinstate special classes for those with Mild General Learning Disability.

“The Budget should be used an opportunity to raise the revenues that are desperately required fairly and progressively.  Ultimately it should be used to remove the pension levy.  The pension levy is manifestly unfair and is creating very real hardship for many who were already struggling to make ends meet.  As well as putting people’s homes at risk it also diminishes the spending power of a significant number of those who remain in employment which will stifle the economy further and result in more job losses in the private sector.

“The levy was never about pensions it was a form of unfair and selective taxation.  Categories of worker are coming to light even now who are subject to the levy and yet derive no additional pension benefit from it for example many fixed term contract workers including researchers, local councillors and the retained fire service.” ENDS

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