Pearse Doherty TD
Donegal Sinn Féin TD, Pearse Doherty, has questioned the Minister for Education in the Dáil in relation to the Government’s failure to reopen schools and special education settings catering for those with special needs in Donegal.
He also criticised the Government for their lack of contingency planning; and the complete lack of engagement with the very real concerns of teachers and SNAs.
“This is a very difficult time for the school community in Donegal. The school community is made up of teachers, teaching assistants, ancillary staff, children and their families. Everyone in this community has one objective: the welfare of our children.”
“The school community in Donegal is hurting. I regret comments made by Government ministers that sought to pit the community against itself. That is no way to serve the school community.”
“It’s clear that the Government failed to make any contingencies for reopening schools in the case of a lockdown after Christmas. What the school community in Donegal needs from the Government is a change in approach,” he said.
He added he is concerned that the Government may try to wrap up the provision of special education with the overall reopening of schools.
“Special education must be an objective in and of itself. We in Sinn Féin have always said that children with special educational needs must be a first priority for a return to school. We support where this has been achieved in the North. The same can be achieved in Donegal.
“But the Government has acted in a haphazard way, without sufficient planning or consultation. The Government must now repair relationships and come up with a credible plan.”
“So what steps did the Minister take yesterday, and what steps will the Minister take in the coming days to reopen special education settings in Donegal?”
“And what steps has the Minister taken to respond to the real concerns raised by staff and Special Needs Assistants such as flexibility for high-risk staff, serial testing, adequate funding for PPE and sanitisation products?”
He added: “The school community in Donegal are suffering, they deserve leadership from the Department of Education, rather than efforts to divide and apportion blame.”
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