Fianna Fáil’s Disability Spokesperson, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that she is shocked at the use of physical restraint on children with disabilities in Irish schools.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony was commenting after a report from Inclusion Ireland suggested that the unregulated use of restraint and seclusion is causing serious psychological harm to children with disabilities.

“The reports in both print and broadcast media this morning are deeply concerning and should cause the Department of Education to stop and review the current rules and procedures.

“What is deeply disturbing I the lack of oversight over this type of activity. At the very least, I would have assumed that if such interventions were employed, school managers would have had to report it to the Department of Education or the National Educational Psychology Service.

“In my opinion, no child should ever be restrained in any way or form, unless it is directly needed to protect them or others. Having said that, it cannot and should not be used as a long term measure – other interventions are clearly required for that child and that classroom.

“The Department must expedite the development of guidelines and provide teachers and school managers with the professional advice they need to allow every child develop to their full potential.

“For many years, I worked as a Special Needs Assistant, and I have first-hand experience of what a positive learning environment can deliver for children with disabilities.

“I hope to raise this matter with the Minister for Education today in the Dáil. We need answers as to what the Government will do to end this unacceptable approach.

“My belief and it is the belief of Fianna Fáil that Irish schools should follow a rights based approach to education; that applies to all children irrespective of whether they have a disability or not. The learning environment outlined in the media demonstrates that in many parts of our school system, the rights of children are not top of the agenda,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.