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Sinn Féin TD joins Dáil protesters seeking reversal of SNA cuts

13 July, 2011 - by Seán Crowe TD

Speaking last night in the Dáil in support of a motion opposing cuts to Special Needs Assistants, Sinn Féin’s Education Spokesperson Seán Crowe said the government must reverse the cuts that have impacted on children with learning and behavioural difficulties.

He continued: “The government must recognise that the loss of Special Needs Assistants in schools across this State is having a devastating impact on children who have special education and behavioural needs as well as on their families, who are struggling to cope, and on over-burdened teachers with responsibility for their learning.

“Cutting SNAs is an unacceptable way of saving a relatively small amount of money and it is an unethical policy. It is also simply not good enough that the Minister justifies the cap on SNAs by blaming his predecessors in government as he is in a position to honour Labour’s pre-election commitments to protect special education services.

“Today I will join people outside the Dáil who are demanding that the government reverses the cuts to SNAs. It is nothing short of perverse that at a time when the SNAs are being capped, it was revealed just this week that the final bill for the recent visits of the English Queen and President Obama amounted to an eye watering €36 million, almost twice as high as what was budgeted for!

“Such excessive spending cannot be justified no more than can the spending of over €100,000 on taxis fares and €130,000 on fine art at the Waterford Institute of Technology. The parents of a child with special needs would be justified in believing the government’s budget and spending priorities are exceptionally perverse and beyond comprehension.

“In the face of these figures it is high time that this government got its priorities right and ensured that it is the right of all children, regardless of their social and economic background, to receive a proper education. This cannot happen if essential cuts to SNAs continue be a central tenant of government policy.

“There are also growing fears that sharing special needs teaching hours amongst a rising number of pupils, combined with a reduction in support in resource teaching, is having the greatest impact on some of the most vulnerable sections of our community.

“The rights of children with special needs to obtain their educational needs must be a priority for this government yet to date their track record on this matter has been quite appalling.” ENDS

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