Catalogue of broken promises

I WRITE with a sense of amusement and anger at the recent letter from Billy Kelleher, deputy government chief whip (Irish Examiner, Dec 16).

Amusement at his assertion that “our policies (Fianna Fail) are clear; they will not be sacrificed for election gimmicks or in the chase for some cheap publicity”.

His party’s election manifesto at the last election was just that. Two thousand more gardaí, an end to hospital waiting lists, 200,000 extra medical cards, a first class medical system, to name but a few. Then we had all those letters promising new schools and school repairs.

When it comes to special education, this Government is a past master at “election gimmicks” and “cheap publicity.” Remember the “open cheque books” and promises to provide appropriate legislation for disabled people.

Recently a petition was organised in Cork calling for rights-based legislation for the disabled. Twenty-thousand signatures were collected and there would have been many more if time permitted. This clearly shows that the ordinary people of Cork want promises in this area delivered.

Promises of “open cheque books” in the area of special education have given way to real cutbacks to the most disadvantaged. Special needs assistants, who are badly needed in classrooms, are being cut.

As I write I am dealing with another parent whose child is facing the prospect of losing a special needs assistant.

This is not the exception... this is becoming the norm, Mr Kelleher. The same is happening in the area of school transport for special needs children. No planning is taking place in the area of school provision for special needs. Plenty of promises and gimmicks, but no delivery of adequate resources for services.

Mr Kelleher’s letter covered the funds increase for local councils in the run-up to local elections. Where is the commitment to continued funding after next year? But, of course, there are no local elections in 2005.

Regarding decentralisation where is the evidence of planning? Where is the link between decentralisation and the ‘spatial policy’ recently announced? What happens when many, if not most, of the key civil servants do not wish to move to ‘the country?’

More civil servants will have to be employed to fill their positions. What’s going to happen to all the civil servants left in Dublin, many of whom have very specialised expertise? What jobs have they to go to? Are they to be put in a department totally inappropriate to their training? Where was the consultation with the unions?

Sorry, Mr Kelleher, this all stinks of election gimmicks and cheap publicity.

People don’t believe your government delivers on any promises. ‘Gimmicks’ regarding one year’s funding no longer wash. You accuse us, the ordinary people, of being cynical. Your government’s actions give all of us a right to be cynical.

Kieran Kennedy,

Chairperson,

Irish Progressive Association for Autism,

Bessborough Centre,

Blackrock,

Cork.

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