Disability and Family Carer groups call on Government and unions to re-engage on special education

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Down Syndrome Ireland along with three other leading advocacy organisations representing children with special educational needs and their families, AsIAm, Inclusion Ireland and Family Carers Ireland, have today expressed deep disappointment on behalf of their members, and called on the Government and unions to re-engage to get special education back up and running as soon as possible.

Commenting on the latest developments on this issue, the groups said they recognise that all parties involved have concerns for their members but they hope that with continued engagement between all parties, a way forward can be found that works in everyone’s interests. They said the welfare of vulnerable children must remain the central focus, and urgent additional supports were now required for the children and families affected to avert a child wellbeing crisis. This will require a whole-of-Government response. The groups are writing to Taoiseach Mícheál Martin today seeking a meeting to discuss the range of supports required.

Speaking today, a spokesperson for the four organisations said:

“The latest news on the continued closure of schools for children with special educational needs is another cruel blow to families. We cannot stress enough the scale of the impact the closure of schools is having on some children with special educational needs. We’re asking again for their needs to be prioritised, and for all parties to re-engage on this issue to get these children back to school. The blame game is not helpful in achieving the goals we all share for children with special educational needs.

“Unfortunately, while talks continue, children with special educational needs continue to regress and see the decline of key skills – some severely. This is moving out of the realm of education, and we are facing a welfare and wellbeing crisis for these children and their families. We need additional supports made available as a matter of urgency. We are today writing to An Taoiseach Mícheál Martin to seek a meeting, and will be asking him to co-ordinate a whole-of-Government response to the issues facing the families we represent, and for every effort be made to alleviate the pressure on children with special education needs and their families.”