Chairperson of Inishowen Children’s Autism Related Education (iCARE) and Donegal area representative for the Special Needs Parents Association, Liam Gill, has called for the retention of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) in Donegal.
Mr Gill made the call as Donegal County Council prepares to debate a motion from Sinn Féin’s Jack Murray which calls for the restoration of those SNAs who were cut in the last budget.
Mr. Gill said: “With the budget on our doorstep many of us will be affected by general cuts and taxes that affect the rest of the population.
“When you have a dependent with a disability who needs therapeutic interventions, educational supports, allowances and where the financial outlay may be greater than that of another, it’s a total nightmare for families thinking of these cutbacks.
“I will be extremely shocked if there are further cutbacks to any special needs assistants in Donegal, if what we are reading in the national papers is true it will have severe consequences to our children, the decision will plunge children with disabilities back into 1950’s Ireland.
“I appreciate the economic circumstances that have led to the decisions made over the previous years of cutbacks but is there any economic savings to the state overall as the financial burden shifts from the Department of Education & skills budget to the department of social protection with the proposed removal of over 200 special needs assistants?
“Over the lifetime of this government, we will see children struggling through our education system unnecessarily and when the country does recover from this recession; those children will continue to struggle as they move through the system onto adulthood.
“Irrespective of what increases in support that might arise in future years, the time in-between will be lost for thousands of children both with and without special needs.”
He said principals and teachers are already under enormous pressure to differentiate the curriculum for every child and manage with fewer resources overall, but this problem is compounded further when they have to accommodate the substantial learning needs of some children who now will have no SNA support in class due to cutbacks. He said he would like to ask the current government to rethink this budget.
Mr Gill insisted: “In my opinion this government has failed, they are still failing and will continue to fail our children.
“SNA’s in our schools are vital to all children with and without a disability, councillors have a duty to fight for their retention, we vote for these people and they are supposed to be our voices.”Tags: