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Dublin: 16°C Friday 17 September 2021

Mother starts second week chaining herself to the front of the Department of Education

This is in relation to a grant payment for her son, who has autism.

justice for aaron Debbie Byrne outside the Department of Education today Source: Justice for Aaron

DEBBIE BYRNE IS today taking her protest for the provision of a grant payment for her son into its second week.

She had returned home for the weekend but is now back continuing her protest outside of the Department of Education in Athlone.

On Friday the head of the special needs section in the department came out to speak to Byrne about her son’s application, saying that an answer would be provided early this week.

She stated that she was unhappy with this as she had already provided the relevant information, and wanted a more immediate decision.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie today, the department has said that it does not comment on individual cases, but that the home tuition grant is generally provided where a school placement is not available for a child with special needs.

It is a condition that when a school placement for a child is found, the home tuition grant ceases, but that it is the choice of the parent concerned whether or not they wish to send their child to the school.

Traditionally the home tuition grant was in place to allow education to be provided in a child’s home, although in recent years this has been altered so that the money can be spent on specialist services.

In their statement, the department goes on to say:

While the department recognises that parents may have a preference for the services provided by private facilities, this is not a factor which can be considered in the context of an application for Home Tuition.

aaron bryne Debbie Byrne's son Aaron

What difficulties does her son have? 

Aaron Byrne, her son, has autism and was attending a specialist school up until this year.

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The three-year-old has physical and anxiety issues which make it difficult for him to attend a non-specialised school.

Through the Justice for Aaron Facebook page that has been set up, Byrne has asked for individuals to come down and spend some time with her supporting the cause.

Continued provision of the home tuition grant would allow Aaron to continue at his current school just one mile and a half away from his home.

Without it, he will be required to move to a school thirty miles away from his home.

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