Quinn reverses special needs cut

Minister moves to reassure parents over education reforms


Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn last night moved to assure the parents of children with special needs that they would not be disadvantaged while reforms in this area of education were being implemented.

Mr Quinn was speaking in the Dáil, after he reversed a decision to cut extra resource teaching hours by about half an hour for some 42,000 children.

The change had been announced last week by the National Council for Special Education.


The Department of Education last night said also insisted there had been no cut in special needs assistants (SNAs). In a statement the department said “the number of applications has not increased since last year” for special needs assistants.

There were more than 10,490 posts, the same as last year, “to meet the care of 22,000 students”. The Opposition claimed last week however the number of students needing special needs assistants had increased from 20,000 to 22,000.

And last night Fianna Fáil education spokesman Charlie McConalogue said the Government "still refuses to admit that there is any cut to the hours which individual students have access to and they're sticking to the defence, based on the same pretence that you abandoned today Minister when you agreed to increase the number of resource teachers which you are going to hire".

Mr McConalogue had introduced a Fianna Fáil private members’ motion calling on the Government to reverse the cuts. The Donegal North East TD welcomed the Minister’s decision earlier yesterday to reverse the cuts in resource teaching hours.

Mr Quinn stressed: “No child who requires access to SNA support will be deprived of this support. There has been no change to the eligibility criteria this year either.”

The Minister said “all eligible children have been allocated SNA support” for the coming school year.

He said 10,490 posts had been allocated and there were 70 posts remaining to be allocated during the school year.

During the debate, which continues tonight, Mr Quinn said: “I wish to take this opportunity to assure parents that their children will not be disadvantaged while we move towards the new model which will ensure greater fairness and quality of education for children with special educational needs.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times