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Calls for mediator to be appointed in special needs education dispute

Calls have been made for a mediator to resolve the impasse on reopening special needs education between the department and unions.

Galway East TD Seán Canney said that there has been too much public rhetoric surrounding the issue, and that a solution is needed for families.

“Children and their parents are at their wits end and they have been given too many false dawns over the last two weeks. It is my view that both sides have lost the focus and the children are suffering”.

Plans for special needs education to resume this week collapsed after the Department of Education and Unions failed to come to an agreement.

The department has blamed unions, saying that staff refuse to accept public health advice saying that it is safe to return to schools with mitigation measures.

However the INTO and Fórsa have said that stronger health measures, such as COVID-19 testing, are needed before people can feel confident returning to schools.

There has been a lot of heated commentary surrounding this issues, and instances of feet being planted firmly in their owners mouths’.

In one instance, Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan had to apologise for comparing the current situation to the suffering endured by children in Mother and Baby Homes.

Deputy Seán Canney said that he has been contacted by parents who are “totally lost” watching the government and unions “battle it out” in the media.

“It is past time to re-focus on the real issue and put the children first. It is our duty to act to protect these children who are so vulnerable, and this game needs to end”.

The Independent TD has proposed that the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters write to the Minister for Education Norma Foley requesting a mediator or facilitator for the dispute.

“There is a solution to be found that protects teachers and SNA staff and at the same time gets the children back to their education”.

Briain Kelly
Email: news@34.245.10.193
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