Dáil debates

Thursday, 9 May 2013

10:40 am

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I am sure the central concern for all of us is to ensure that all our children have the best educational opportunities and supports. I am sure the Tánaiste will agree with me that in the case of a child with a disability - for these purposes, Down's syndrome - our duty is all the greater because the need of the child is greater. I am glad to hear that the Minister will have a report on the general issue of children with disabilities and how supports for them are provided, but this is a very specific instance. Until 2005, every child with Down's syndrome was in receipt of teaching resource supports. Since then, a group of those children with Down's syndrome have been denied that very basic support.

I fully appreciate that policy must be based on evidence and expertise but I put it to the Tánaiste that Down Syndrome Ireland has considerable expertise in this area and that until 2005, the State recognised that every child with Down's syndrome required resource support. It was wrong for the previous Administration to withdraw that and it is essential for this Administration to put things right. It affects a very small number of children but should the Government do the right thing, it will make a significant difference to those children and families. Will the Tánaiste let us know at what stage he or the Minister for Education and Skills proposes to deal with this specific issue and to reassure all of us in the Dáil that these resource hours will be afforded to every child with Down's syndrome?


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