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Fianna Fáil/Green Government betrays children with special needs – Ó Caoláin

11 February, 2009

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for the immediate reversal of the decision by Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe to take special teacher support from up to 900 children with special needs in this State, slashing 128 special teaching posts and taking special needs teachers from 119 schools.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The cutting of special needs teachers for some of the most vulnerable children in our schools is shameful and disgraceful. It flies in the face of all the rhetoric from the Government about their commitment to early intervention to address special educational needs. It is a blow in particular to disadvantaged schools and to efforts to address poverty with long-term educational strategies.

"This cut is a betrayal of children with special needs by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party. In 2005 Sinn Féin tabled a Private Members motion in the Dáil highly critical of the system of allocating special needs teachers, a system that has now been used to cut vital resources based on arbitrary numbers. The Green Party TDs supported our motion. Now they are standing over this shameful cut.

"During the course of the debate on 22 February 2005, the then Education Minister Mary Hanafin said of the then Finance Minister, Brian Cowen:

'The Minister for Finance is obliged to have due regard to the State's duty to provide for an education appropriate to the needs of every child under the Constitution and the necessity to provide equity of treatment for all children.'

"The Minister for Education and Science Batt O'Keeffe should now reverse his decision." ENDS

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