Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills

National Council for Special Education: Chairperson Designate

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
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I join in welcoming the delegation and apologise for not being here at the very beginning. I thank Mr. Hayes for his presentation and welcome him to the role. I also pay tribute to Mr. Eamon Stack, whom I know going back a long way, as he was principal of a school my son attended at one stage. He had a very wide educational experience but Mr. Hayes is coming from a different perspective. As others have said, that is very good, as we need that perspective. The importance of the child is central to all of this.

I pay tribute to the work of the national council; it has done some very good work, sometimes under very difficult circumstances because resources are limited. They may have been more limited in the past but they are still limited. There is a constant need coming before the council and there is variation in what is appropriate to certain children, whether it is integration in mainstream with supports, special classrooms, particularly for children on the autism spectrum, or special schools. Depending on the needs of the child, all of those need to be provided. There is a constant and growing demand. I am sure this will be a challenge for the witness as I am sure he will want to do everything possible, as all of us would. There will always be a certain limit on resources. What is the view of the witness in this respect?

As a committee we would like to continue to have an ongoing conversation with Mr. Hayes and the council. If, now or at any stage in the future, there are particular areas we should examine as a committee or where it would be useful to do so, we can call in people to make presentations and write reports. As a committee we are interested in continuing to engage with Mr. Hayes and the council on this very important matter.