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Special needs cuts 'devastating' for struggling parents

Protesters will mass at Government Buildings next week in the hope of reversing cuts in care for children with special needs.

A protest against the cuts earlier this year
A protest against the cuts earlier this year
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE ORGANISERS OF a protest against special needs cuts planned at the Dáil next week have said the reduced care levels are “devastating” for parents.

The Alliance Against Cuts in Education is organising a ‘welcome back’ demonstration at Leinster House as TDs return to the Dáil after the summer recess next Wednesday. Parents and teachers are hoping to reverse cutbacks to the numbers of Special Needs Assistants in schools, which were voted through by parliament earlier this year.

Alliance member Tomás Ó Dúlaing told TheJournal.ie that the needs of children with autism, attention deficit disorder and other conditions had been dealt a “hammer blow” by the cuts.

It’s devastating for parents. People are so upset about it. Many of them have struggled since the child was born, to get the resources to allow the child to achieve their full potential. In recent times, children have made great progress with special needs assistants. And that is now being taken away.

He said the cuts would also have a severe impact on other school children, as greater pressure would be put on teachers in classrooms. “Let’s say you have a child with behavioural difficulties,” he said. “Imagine the impact on the teaching and learning process for other children when there isn’t a special needs assistant constantly helping, guiding their attention back.”

Saying that he expected a “substantial turnout” at the protest, Mr Ó Dúlaing added that the cuts of a “few million” are a false economy, as money invested in special needs now would avoid substantial care costs down the line. “If the resources are given now, a large number of those children will be contributing to the economy in future,” he said. “If not, and when parents and carers pass on, there is every chance that many of these individuals will need residential care at the State’s expense.”

Read more: Thousands expected at protest against Special Needs cutbacks>

Read more: Government wins Dáil vote on SNAs>

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Michael Freeman

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