Adversarial culture in Departments of Health and Education must end – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called for an immediate end to the State practice of gathering dossiers on families of children with special educational needs.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“My blood was boiling watching the RTÉ Investigates programme last Thursday night. The actions of the Department of Health and Education here are an outright disgrace.
“However, the anger that I felt is little in comparison to the anger felt by parents of children with special educational needs, particularly those who have had to take the Departments of Health and Education to court to secure basic fundamental rights for their children.
“I have spoken to many of these families and their representatives since the programme has aired. The resounding sentiment from them is that they are sickened by what has happened, but they are not surprised.
“The adversarial culture in the Departments of Health and Education, where parents must fight tooth and nail for supports that their children have a right to, has to end.
“It takes courage for any family to bring a court case against the State. For them then to find out that State bodies have gone behind their back trying to gather dirt and treating these parents as an object of suspicion, is grossly wrong.
“The lack of respect shown to these families is shocking. I have heard many reports that families have been contacted by RTÉ to say that they were affected by this, and not directly from the State.
“I have called on the Minister today to put an immediate end to this disgraceful practice, to immediately contact all families involved to let them know and to offer support, and to set up a helpline for all families of children with special educational needs to provide reassurances.
“This culture of battling for supports that children have a right to, must end immediately.”