Dublin: Hundreds Of Parents,Teachers & Children March Against SNA Cuts In Schools: UPDATED

14 Sep

The Fine Gael/Labour government is being warned it faces a similar fate to the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition unless it U-turns on the issue of special needs assistants (SNAs).
 
Hundreds of campaigners opposed to reduced spending on SNAs took to the streets in Dublin today.
 
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They marched from the Central Bank to the Dáil, demanding fair treatment for children with special needs.
 
Principal at Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School in Lucan, Co Dublin Tomás O’Dulaing said: “(The Government) can find money to bail out the richest and the most powerful in our society…but they can’t, they tell us, find the money to look after the most vulnerable in our society.
“We simply don’t accept that and will fight them until they change their minds.”
The total number of special needs assistants is being cut from 10,800 to 10,500.
Mr O’Dulaing said this equated to “300 children who are capable of great personal development, but who will be unable to attain that because of these cuts.
It’s the thin end of the wedge.”
 
NEWS UPDATE:
SOME parents of special needs children wiped away tears as they joined hundreds of protesters demonstrating outside the Dáil.

Parents joined teachers in a march to Leinster House to demand a reversal in cuts to the number of special needs assistants (SNAs).

They joined others at the gates, campaigning against pension levies and the Government’s austerity programme.

Traveller representatives said their community had been hit particularly hard by the cutbacks.

Impact trade union spokesman Philip Mullen said the cuts made no financial sense as the children affected would need to go back into special education units, which would cost the taxpayer as much as SNAs.

Demonstrators angry at how the pensions levy will affect their Tara Mines retirement payments, wore their mining clothes as they mingled with members of the Alliance Against Cuts in Education outside the gates of the Dáil.

United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett and other opposition TDs, including those from Sinn Féin, joined with the loud but good-natured crowds to protest against the austerity policies of the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition.

Mr Boyd Barrett said it was wrong for the Government to pump so much money into bailed out banks, when the poor and vulnerable were “paying the price” for the policy.

The main issues protested about also dominated Leader’s Questions, where Independent TD Finian McGrath accused the Taoiseach of ignoring the plight of special needs children and raised concerns about the Government’s plan to increase the school starting age to five.

Mr McGrath said it was unacceptable for disabled children to be “locked out of school” on their first day back because of the cuts in the numbers of SNAs.

Enda Kenny replied that no decision has been made on the school starting age and that the Government was devoting all the resources it could to education.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said €317 million had been put into bailed-out banks since the Dáil last met in July and that this should have been diverted to job creation.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin attacked the Government’s pension levy which was introduced to fund the jobs initiative, as he said it penalised some pensioners on low incomes and that unemployment had risen by some 28,000 since the initiative was announced in May.

Mr Martin also accused the Taoiseach of disrespecting the Dáil by refusing to release advice the Government had received before imposing the pension levy, which Fianna Fáil had to later obtain through the Freedom of Information provisions.

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