State pledges an extra 975 SNAs by September

The Government has committed to putting 975 additional special needs assistants in place from September.

The announcement of extra support staff came as the Impact union announced it is to ballot SNAs for industrial action after accusing Government of leaving staff with no guarantee of a job before the summer.

Questioning the Taoiseach in the Dáil, Mary Lou McDonald said the Government is over a month behind in allocating SNAs for the coming term which she said is causing “distress”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar promised that parents waiting to hear if their child will be allocated an SNA will be told in the coming week.

Education Minister Richard Bruton said the posts will ensure every child who needs access to SNA support can receive it.

Ms McDonald accused the Government of having a “fairly scant and mixed” commitment to SNA provision and said that parents were at their “wits’ end” waiting to hear if their child would receive the support.

Impact, which represents almost 8,000 SNAs, says the failure to publish the allocations puts the education department in breach of agreements on job security and redeployment.

Impact deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan said: “The education department’s disgraceful and habitual failure to do this simple thing, which means so much uncertainty for our children and their schools, also means that SNAs don’t know if they have a job to return to next September. If it happened one time, it would be unacceptable. But it happens every year — and that shows contempt for SNAs, and for the children, parents and schools they serve.”

The Taoiseach was separately asked about raids on insurance companies. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Government of being “pathetically slow” in its response to rising premiums. “It seems it has taken the European Commission to wake people up [the Government].”

Mr Varadkar said laws were in place to ensure there is “no collusion or cartels among businesses seeking to fix prices”.

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