4th July, Independence Day for Children with Special Needs

On Wednesday next, 4th July, children with special needs, and their parents and school support workers, will take to the streets and lay claim to the independence that should be the birth-right of these children. Unfortunately, because of the catalogue of cutbacks being imposed by the current Fine Gael/Labour government, that fundamental human right is being thrashed as our political masters’ rush, instead, to fill the coffers of the zombie banks and the unsecured bondholders. Cuts in carers’ allowance, in respite care allowance, in domiciliary care allowance, in special needs assistants, in resource-teaching and now in provision for school leavers – this is the record of a government who solemnly promised so much, but instead chose to doff the cap and bend the knee to the cabal in Anglo Irish Bank, and bondholders like Ibranovic, who speculated and lost on theroulette of the money markets.

The Alliance against Cutbacks in Education [A.C.E.] invites the public to consider the plight  of 2 children who are suffering as a direct result of the government’s twisted order of priorities.

Mary arrived in primary school 5 years ago, having being diagnosed with autism. She was in nappies, she cried and she clung and she completely non-performed. After 4 years with a full-time Special Needs Assistant [SNA] and 5 hours per week of 1 to 1 resource-teaching hours, she made remarkable progress, to the point where her parents spoke of future third level participation. Unfortunately, 12 months ago, Mary’s SNA allocation was halved and her resource hours cut by 10%. As a result, much of the crying and clinging is back, talk of third level has been replaced by the necessity of having to repeat third class, and there has been a 30 point drop in Mary’s standardised test scores.

Joan completed her Junior Certificate last year. Joan was lucky in that her education was well supported during “the good times” and she achieved 2 A’s and 4 B’s in her Junior Cert in 2010. Now in the Leaving Certificate programme, the cuts have caught up with Joan. At the time of greatest challenge for her, she now finds herself in a group of 10 children all with special needs, with just 1 SNA supporting the whole group. Joan’s father told ACE: “It is absolutely certain that Joan will underachieve, that her human right to reach her potential will be seriously undermined and that her life-chances will be affected as a result”.

Tomás O Dúlaing, chairperson of A.C.E. commented: “Children like Mary and Joan, and many, many others are suffering these indignities as a direct result of the dirty deeds of Ruairí Quinn, and his cohorts in Fine Gael and Labour. They cosset the powerful and the privileged, while at the same time turning their guns on the most needy and most vulnerable. No amount of spin will cover this up – they should be utterly ashamed”.

* Why is there no temporary, wealth tax - of a mere 1% - imposed on the very wealthy – which would yield €900m, we are told.

* Why aren’t the wages of the €100,000 plus earners in the public service capped – which would furnish €260m, we are told.

* Why not impose a third, temporary rate of tax on all earning more than €100,000 – thereby making €410m available to the State’s coffers.

Why is it likely that Fine Gael and Labour will shun all of the above options and go on instead protecting the better off in return for their loyalty at the next election?

The A.C.E. campaign looks forward to welcoming its supporters from all over Ireland on Independence Day for Children with Special Needs.

We assemble at the Central Bank on Dame Street at 15.45 and march to the Dáil at 16.00.

We will hold a rally at the Dáil at 17.00.