What an horrific week we have experienced for people with disabilities and in particular  children with special needs promised a return to Education this Monday .

The devastation caused to these kids and their families will take many years to recover from and the lack of regard demonstrated by the Government and the relevant Ministers responsible for special education beggars belief .

Don’t Leave them Behind had warned the Government in advance of this latest lockdown that it was vital that  special education was not touched as part of the restrictions proposed .

We witnessed the Minister for Special Education promising parents that ” schools will not close on Monday “ then rapidily backtracking when the Government announced that in fact all  schools would close , we then watched as she proudly announced that she had ” protected “ special education and that it would be open on Monday and then we discovered that in fact special education was gone for the forseeable future .Her position is untenable and she has lost all confidence of those of us in the sector .

This betrayal was compounded by the confusion caused by Government with mixed messaging and a headless chicken approach to managing a Pandemic  damaged 18,000 children and their families.

Both  Ministers for Education and Special Education  are meeting a number of representatives on Monday to discuss special education , however based on the previous meetings between these parties including one this week which promised ” ring fencing of special education “  we anticipate no positive outcome from these meetings.

Indeed we have learned that they are going to offer a hybrid July Provision programme which will be limited in hours and dependant of teachers and SNAs and we know what happens in this circumstances .

This Government has had 10 months to develop a plan B for special education in the event of  a cycle of lockdowns . Don’t Leave Them Behind have offered solutions to Government over those 10 months without any engagement resulting in the fiasco this week.

We are further concerned about Day Care Services as based on this Governments actions in dealing with people with disabilities that they will curtail these services without any reference to the service users and their families .

This week was another Shameful week for Ireland and for this Government

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