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Special Educational Needs and Disability legislation must take account of local needs

2 April, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Disability, Mid Ulster MLA Geraldine Dougan has welcomed the publication of legislation on Special Educational Needs and Disability but said that NIO Ministers must ensure that the consultation genuinely takes account of local need.

Ms Dougan said:

"The draft Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill was jointly published by Martin McGuinness's department and the Department of Employment and Learning over 12 months ago. It is disappointing that is has taken this long for British NIO Ministers to move this process on.

"This legislation is 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.

"It is vital that the consultation is genuine and takes full account of the experiences and expertise here in the 6 Counties. In many ways we need to go much further than the draft Order in Council that has been published today.

"This legislation must be matched with a financial commitment to ensure that schools are able to meet the requirements to give all pupils equal opportunities." ENDS

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