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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 23 May 1979

Vol. 314 No. 8

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Education of Handicapped.


asked the Minister for Education the measures, if any, being taken to ensure equal educational opportunity for the physically handicapped.

My policy is to encourage and facilitate as far as possible the attendance of physically handicapped students at their local schools when it is considered that such attendance will be beneficial to the student.

Where the nature of a child's disability prevents his benefiting from attendance at an ordinary school, educational facilities are provided in special primary schools and in certain second-level schools.

I am happy to add that the educational facilities available to physically handicapped students in this country compare favourably with the best.

I may assure the Deputy that advancement of the education of physically handicapped children is a matter which is kept under constant review in my Department.

With particular reference to certain second-level schools, can the Minister give us any more information about his policy about new second-level school premises, either completely new schools or extensions that have been built? Will he inform the House specifically whether he makes it a condition of sanction for any new building for which State money is being provided in this area, that the facilities should be equally available to children with physical handicap as well as to normally endowed children?

I am not aware that the payment of grants is conditional on those facilities being available. However, I will make an inquiry in that regard and I will let the Deputy know the up-to-date position on it. There would not be any guarantee beforehand that one would have applicants in respect of this type of education in every school and, therefore, it would be imprudent to stipulate that they would have provision if one did not have some guarantee that they would be required.

Would it not be possible——

The Deputy is anticipating Question No. 36.

Question No. 36 is about mentally handicapped children. I am asking a question in relation to physically handicapped children, which is Question No. 35. Does the Minister not think it reasonable that some of the more basic and inexpensive things, such as ramps and steps, should be provided and that the Department should endeavour to see that they are provided?

The Deputy can rest assured that everybody in the Departments, including Ministers and Ministers of State, shares the Deputy's concern that the handicapped should get the best that is available. I will make inquiries on the matters to which he has drawn attention. Where it is possible for us to integrate the handicapped we will be concerned to do so.


asked the Minister for Education if he will provide the necessary para-educational and paramedical services, deemed essential in special schools, to ordinary schools who now cater for mentally handicapped children.

I am not clear what the Deputy has in mind in using the term "para-educational and para-medical" in this context and would be glad if he would clarify the matter for me in another question.

The point of the question simply is that, as there are some schools which take some mentally handicapped children on the basis of finance available only to normal primary schools, I am anxious to know whether the Minister would consider making available to such normal primary schools additional facilities that may be requested by teachers and management for the education of mildly mentally handicapped children in their care.

When it is indicated to the Department that a handicapped child can be accommodated in a local national school, all the adaptations required will be made with a view to having made available the best facilities possible.

The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.

I intend to raise on the Adjournment the effects of the continuing and marked deterioration of the postal dispute on the tourist industry and I will ask whether in the present serious circumstances the Minister has any proposal to alleviate the position.

I wish to raise a matter of very great urgency in regard to tourist areas in the non-manual telephone areas where the co-terminals do not coincide——

There must be an election on.

There is always an election where I am concerned. I have several other matters to raise. One is the question of the damage that may have been done in the minds of people reading certain newspapers as to the non-secrecy of the ballot. Regulations would assure people of complete secrecy; legislation would not be necessary. Number three, I wish to raise the matter of the discriminatory allocation of time in RTE programmes in regard to the parties: one minute per candidate to Fianna Fáil, 0.83 minutes to each Fine Gael candidate and so forth, and no time to the rest of us. I should also like to raise a related matter, but not quite the same thing, the ban on the candidates in the European election from any coverage incidental to their non-election activities. This particularly relates to the candidature of Mr. T.J. Maher in the south and me in the north-west. Might I raise a further matter about there being no time whatsoever devoted to non-attached and independent candidates in so far as TV coverage is concerned? Since the Whips had a meeting——

The Deputy has given notice of these matters but he may not go on to debate them.

The Whips met and arranged all this and, that being so, it becomes a matter for the House and I wish to bring it to your attention. Also, I should like to know—this is a matter which may have been misunderstood—whether free money from the EEC is under the supervision of some Minister here. I want to raise that because of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply I received in regard to this matter from the Minister for Foreign Affairs a week ago. I should like to raise as a matter of urgency the promised inquiry into the future of the boatyards, particularly with reference to the intended redundancy date, 31 May.

I will communicate with the Deputy.

I should like to raise on the Order of Business tomorrow the matter of the national understanding, its acceptance or rejection today, and also the matter referred to yesterday on the Order of Business in regard to the decision of the bank officials not to operate Sterling as from Monday next.

The Deputy will be notified by the Chair whether it is in order so to raise these matters.

I intend to raise on the Adjournment the failure of the order brought in by the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy in relation to energy, petrol in particular, and also the serious nature of the petrol shortage.

I shall communicate with the Deputy.

I should like some clarification in regard to Deputy Barry's point. It is a new procedure as far as I am concerned to give notice of intention to raise matters on the Order of Business.

When a Deputy raises something on the Order of Business it is normal practice for the Taoiseach to say he has not had notice of it. I am giving the Government adequate notice now.

For the information of the House, the fact that it has been mentioned now does not provide any assurance that it will be acceptable when raised. The question that will be decided then is whether it is in order to raise it at all.

On the Order of Business the appropriate procedure is to inquire about the matters being taken and whether certain things will be taken and so on. I understand from what Deputy Barry has said that he seems to be treating it as Question Time.

Normally when a Deputy raises a matter on the Order of Business the Taoiseach says that he has not had notice of it. I am giving notice now that in the morning I will want to know what the Government are doing——

The Deputy is notifying me that he will seek to raise it.