Seanad debates

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I support Senator Craughwell's call for a debate in the House on the terms of the commission on the future of the Defence Forces. I was very pleased, along with Deputy Chambers, to ensure that in the programme for Government there really were strong commitments on the Defence Forces.I was pleased to hear yesterday's announcement by the Department of Education that all new primary and secondary school buildings will have an autism spectrum disorder, ASD, unit going forward. This is important in terms of inclusion. It is also hugely important that our young people with disabilities will have the opportunity to have an education in local schools along with their siblings and neighbours. It sends a strong message.

We must now look at the existing schools around the country that do not have facilities for ASD students. We need to have that debate here. We had the Minister for Education in the Chamber; we need to have the Minister of State with responsibility for special education.

Approximately three years ago, we had a situation in my town of Newbridge where 11 young students left two ASD units in a primary school. It took five months for them to get a place in a secondary school. It was appalling that 11 young people were left without any form of education or stimulation for five months. We need to act. We are coming to another pinch point. Having had a conversation with the principal this morning, I know the Holy Family Catholic Secondary School for Girls in Newbridge has put in for an ASD unit. I certainly hope that will be in place next September. I want a strong message to go to the Minister on that and also about seeking a debate on the provision of special education in mainstream schools.


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