Pay rises and priorities
Sir,– The recent double U-turn on the reopening of special schools shows the Department of Education simply did not care enough about these children to put in place a plan for providing them an education when the inevitable further lockdowns arrived.
Meanwhile, the news that the new Department of Health secretary general will receive a pay rise of €81,000 at a time when the HSE has been redeploying therapists for children with special needs is welcome, given it shows exactly where the priorities in the Irish health service lie.
This country needs to stop fooling itself that it cares about the vulnerable.
We can either provide services to children with special needs or hire large numbers of well very well-paid health service managers. If we choose to grant huge pay increases to health service managers and hire an ever-increasing army of HSE managers, we should at least be honest enough not to feign concern for children with special needs. While we are prepared to throw a few euro at a charity event from time to time, we are simply not prepared to properly fund services and education for our vulnerable children on an ongoing basis. While schools will presumably eventually return, the huge waiting list for basic therapy services will continue.
Covid, if nothing else, has brought a long overdue spotlight onto the substandard services being provided to children with special needs by both the Department of Health and the Department of Education. Parents who have been fighting for years for services can only welcome this new development.
The question now is whether when the bill for the costs of the lockdowns arrive will cuts be made to services for children with special needs or to the salaries of our highly paid managers in the Department of health and the Department education? One would at least hope when all the media outcry over the lack of education for children with special needs dies down, the media might start robustly questioning our extremely well-paid health service managers about the huge waiting lists for basic therapies and assessments of needs, both of which long predate Covid. – Yours, etc,