Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Parents of children with special needs deeply disturbed by plight of family in Meath

9 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, speaking in the Dáil this morning said that "parents of children with special needs, especially children with autism, are deeply disturbed and distressed by the plight of a family, which has made national headlines recently."

Deputy Ó Caoláin was referring to the case of a couple from County Meath who had their five children, four of whom are autistic, taken in to care by the Health Service Executive. He said, "It seems that the children were taken from the family in question by the Health Service Executive last weekend because the family had clearly indicated to the media that it was finding it difficult to cope in the absence of State support and resourcing."

The Cavan/Monaghan TD asked the Taoiseach if he realised that "many thousands of families throughout the State are now afraid to highlight openly the difficulties they are wrestling with."

"The Taoiseach should not doubt that this is a serious matter," he said. "The parents of children with special needs are struggling to cope because they are facing the difficulties and challenges which were encountered by the family I mentioned, which is now facing a terrible vista."

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say "There has not been any substantial change since the publication in October 2001 of the report of the task force on autism. That report claimed that the State 'is critically unable to meet the needs of children with autistic spectrum disorders in Ireland'."

He called on the Taoiseach to agree that, "the Government is duty-bound to rectify the disgraceful neglect of decades and to provide these children and their families with all the resources they need. The State's response, by way of the provision of resources, must be in the critical service areas of education, therapeutic support and respite. It must also provide all the other supports that are needed. Instead of heaping blame on families for spelling out the reality and truth of their circumstances, will the Government and State not take their responsibility seriously?" ENDS

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