Fianna Fáil Senator Darragh O’Brien has described as “utterly disgraceful” the lack of any early intervention team in North Dublin to provide key assessments and supports for children with special needs and disabilities.

Senator O’Brien said: “Thousands of children are languishing on waiting lists while many more can’t even get on a list for an assessment of the supports they require for disabilities or special educational needs.  This is an issue that must be tackled urgently.  Dublin North City and County has no Early Intervention teams, in fact there is no EI team anywhere in Dublin to support these children.

“2558 children were on waiting lists across north Dublin alone for an initial assessment for Speech and Language Therapy at the end of last year – but these figures mask the true extent of the problem.  The Government shamefully closed these waiting lists for new children so many more are in need now in Fingal and across the capital.

“North Dublin has senior Cabinet representation.  Minister James Reilly failed to take any action to advance the case for Early Intervention teams while he was in charge of the HSE and now as Minister for Children he has a huge responsibility to deliver real change for these children.

“As part of the Budget for next year the Government needs to set out how it intends to clear the waiting lists, allow for new assessments and then put in place the necessary supports for children.  There needs to be a clear decision made to prioritise these children or the Government runs the risk of their development being seriously and needlessly damaged.  There is countless of evidence of the benefits early intervention has for children with special needs and disabilities.  This is an essential service that needs to be provided across North Dublin and I will continue to push the Fine Gael / Labour Government to do the right thing by these children.”