Written Answers. - School Dispute.

Joan Burton


12 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps he intends to take to address the concerns of parents of severely disabled children at the Development Education Centre, St. Vincent's, Navan Road, that have resulted in a prolonged dispute; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21763/02]

I am fully aware of the issue to which the Deputy refers and I am most anxious that this matter be resolved as speedily as possible. I have met the parents involved and am aware of their concerns in relation to the matter.

The issues involved have been the subject of high level discussions between my Department and the Department of Health and Children. Arising from these discussions, a senior member of my Department's inspectorate and a representative of the Department of Health and Children were appointed to visit the centre to review the situation and assist local management in resolving the current difficulty. The officials in question have already had discussions with the parents, staff and management at the centre. In addition, an experienced independent facilitator has been working with the parties in an effort to resolve matters. The report of the facilitator is due very shortly and I am hopeful that his report will provide a basis for a resolution of the current difficulties.

Adequate resources have been made available to ensure the delivery to the required level of both education and health care services at the centre. Responsibility for ensuring that the various inputs are delivered in a co-ordinated manner rests with the local management authorities. The guiding principle informing such arrangements must be that the needs of the children are paramount and that they require and are entitled to a multi-disciplinary response involving education and health care services. In this regard, the education and health care professionals assigned to work with the children need to make appropriate arrangements to meet the specific needs of each of the children.
I am hopeful that the report of the facilitator will provide a basis for resolving the current difficulties at St. Vincent's to the satisfaction of all concerned, particularly the parents of the children involved. I assure the Deputy of my commitment to supporting any measures which contribute to this objective and I would call on all the parties involved to work towards this goal.