Personal Explanation by Minister of State

The Minister of State, Deputy Madigan, has informed me that she wishes to give a personal explanation to the House, pursuant to Standing Order 56.

I wish to correct the record of the House with regard to the context of a word I used last Thursday afternoon when speaking about students without special educational needs. The word was not appropriate, I did not use it intentionally and it was not what I meant to say. While I publicly apologised last Thursday, I wish to restate that apology on the floor of the House. I withdraw the remark and re-emphasise my commitment to supporting children with special educational needs and their families, particularly at this difficult time.

In that context, I also want to clarify that my earlier comments in the media, referenced in the Chamber today, pertained to looking after the most vulnerable in our society, including children with special educational needs. I meant no more than that. At no stage would I compare these two very different situations.