Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has expressed his outrage at the government’s plans to further slash school supports for children with special needs.
Seanad Leader Maurice Cummins confirmed to Fianna Fáil in Seanad Éireann today that his government does indeed intend to pursue yet another savage cut to resource hours this year, amounting to an unsustainable 25% cut in the lifetime of this government.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “It is clear that Fine Gael and Labour view children with special needs as an ‘easy target’ whose services they can continue to cut. I find it appalling that this government is deliberately targeting children with disabilities for further service cuts. Having imposed a 10% cut in resource hours in June 2011, followed by a further 5% cut in June 2012, they are now coming back for more.
“These cuts are not taking pace in isolation. Simultaneously another Labour Party Minister, Joan Burton, has cynically changed the criteria for the Domiciliary Care Allowance resulting in hundreds of children with severe intellectual disabilities suddenly losing their allowance. A series of bureaucratic reviews of the DCA by Minister Burton’s officials have left hundreds of children with autism and other intellectual disabilities suddenly without the basic support they should be entitled to from the State.
“Today’s reports of another attack on resource hours have caused alarm among parents and teachers right across the country. These cuts will have a severe impact not just on the children with special needs who are directly affected, but also on the entire classroom environment. All children right across the mainstream school system will be adversely impacted by this short sighted and counter-productive cut.
“Minister Quinn has so far escaped scrutiny on his cuts agenda. I am calling on him to immediately come out and explain his justification for targeting some of the most vulnerable children in the entire education system,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.