Josepha Madigan apologises for comparing SNAs fallout to mother and baby homes 

Josepha Madigan: 'I in no way intended offence towards anyone who works with children with special educational needs.'
Josepha Madigan apologises for comparing SNAs fallout to mother and baby homes 

Josepha Madigan has apologised for remarks she made on RTÉ radio on on Wednesday morning. Picture: Julien Behal

The Minister of state for special education and inclusion has apologised for comparing children with additional needs not attending school to the mother and baby homes.

Josepha Madigan was speaking on RTÉ's Claire Byrne Show about the fact schools catering for these children would not open on Thursday as planned to due ongoing issues between the Government and unions over safety.

"It is completely and wholly unsatisfactory where we are now," she said.

"We've spent the last week talking about mother and baby homes, where our most vulnerable were left to their own devices in less than satisfactory conditions and we're now allowing further anxiety and upset to be placed on the shoulders of parents whose children desperately need to go back to school."

The report published last week found that around 9,000 children of the 57,000 born in the homes died, while 56,000 women passed through their doors.

The statement was met with widespread shock on social media with many calling for Ms Madigan to resign.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Minister apologised for her remarks.

She said: "This morning, I made comments on how important it is that our children with special educational needs return to in-person learning. 

"As part of these comments, I reflected on how vulnerable people have been entirely let down in the past, and I made a reference to mother and baby homes. I sought to clarify these comments in the Dáil today.

I in no way intended offence towards anyone who works with children with special educational needs. 

I am, as are all involved in supporting these children, passionate about vindicating their rights and in reaching for an analogy I chose poorly.

"I apologise fully," she added.

Ms Madigan has already had to request time in the Dáil this week to apologise for her language during a Dáil debate, when she referred to children without additional needs as "normal".

The Labour Party's education spokesman, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on the Taoiseach to intervene, saying the situation has "now spiralled completely out of control".

"Minister was allowed move on from a comment last week when describing non-SEN students as ‘normal’," he wrote on social media.

Now there is comparisons with mother and baby homes.

"Taoiseach needs to intervene before more damage is done."

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said in the Dáil: "Comparing these professionals — teachers and SNAs — to mother and baby homes is not just crass and clueless, but is a very vain attempt to shift blame."

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