FINE Gael TD Sean Barrett has called for the setting up of a special unit which will take responsibly for ensuring school places are secured for children with special needs.
The call follows the controversy surrounding the case of Angel McDonagh, an 11-year-old with spina bifida, who has been out of the education system for a year due to the inability of state agencies to find her a special needs school place.
Mr Barrett said: “It just isn’t good enough that parents and children are sent from A to Z as various departments and the HSE fail to take responsibility for ensuring the child receives its constitutional right to an education.”
He added; “I intend pursuing this issue to the bitter end and will be raising it in the Dáil if a school place is not secured for Angel. It is just not good enough, a cross-departmental unit should be established to deal with such cases which are an absolute disgrace.”
Mr Barrett is TD for Dun Laoghaire where Angel and her father James, 31, are resident.
The Department of Education has instructed Mr McDonagh to enrol Angel at a St Micheal’s House special school in Rathgar.
However, the school management has said it may be unable to enrol any more students due todepartment funding cutbacks.
Mr McDonagh has lodged a complaint with the children’s ombudsman, Emily Logan, stating that Angel’s constitutional rights to an education are being infringed.
He has also complained of a “threat” by HSE social workers to “take into care” Angel and her brother Micheal, 8, if he does not halt his high-profile campaign which has included protests outside the Dáil and the Green Party special conference.
The campaign to secure Angel a school place is also supported by Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit alliance.
He said: “To treat a vulnerable child with special needs in this way beggars belief... Angel’s father has done everything to try and get his daughter an education and get her medical needs provided for, yet he comes up against a brick wall of cutbacks, indifference and bureaucracy.
“Angel’s plight shows the shocking human reality behind the cutbacks and the under-funding of our vital services. It brings home the true obscenity of billions being poured into banks and hundreds of thousands paid in salaries and bonuses to people like Brendan Drumm, while the most vulnerable in our society are being savaged with cuts,” he added.
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