Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon says the government is continuing to fail people with special needs in Sligo despite giving commitments in its Programme for Government.

Deputy Scanlon highlighted serious problems at St. Cecilia’s school, which have arisen as a result of staff shortages, with the Taoiseach earlier this week.

“St. Cecilia’s school cares for children with very special needs.  The staff working there are fantastic and the standard of care that they give to the children is exceptional.  However, more staff and resources are needed.  At the moment there is only one speech and language therapist.  This therapist is being expected to support 44 children aged between 5 and 18, as well as another 100 people who are living in residential care.  That is an impossible task and is doing a huge disservice to the therapist and the people she is tasked with supporting”, said Deputy Scanlon.

“There are also issues resulting from the loss of a behavioural therapist earlier in the year who still hasn’t been replaced.  Delays in filling this essential position are putting additional pressure on the staff at the school.

“The situation at Cecilia’s, despite the best efforts of the staff there, is simply unacceptable.  These children need early intervention services, but they are being deprived because there are not enough therapists allocated to cater for the numbers.

“I have raised this issue directly with the Taoiseach and have pleaded with him to examine the situation regarding staffing allocations.  Minister John Halligan has informed me that an analysis is being carried out by the Department of Health and the Department of Education and that he should be in a position to discuss the matter further in the coming weeks.  I look forward to that engagement”.