Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 15 Jun 2022

Vol. 1023 No. 5

Special Educational Needs School Places: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire on Tuesday, 14 June 2022:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes that:
— a child's right to education is enshrined in the Constitution and, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, must be accessible on an equal basis with others in the community in which they live; and
— the Government has made a commitment in its Programme for Government: Our Shared Future to ensure that each child with a special educational need has an appropriate school place, in line with their Constitutional right;
further notes that:
— there has been an inexcusable failure by the Minister for Education and Deputy Josepha Madigan, Minister of State at the Department of Education to make adequate preparations to provide appropriate school places to children with special educational needs;
— a survey by AsIAm notes that at least 267 students do not have an appropriate school place for September 2022, but in reality this number is likely to be significantly higher;
— the Minister for Education, the Department of Education and the National Council for Special Education have access to data on the true number of children who require an appropriate special educational place in September, and have not planned nor acted accordingly;
— the retrograde and ill-thought-out proposal to segregate and isolate children away from the school community and into special education centres is not acceptable, nor does it ensure an appropriate school place as committed to under the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future; and
— many parents have been put in a desperate position due to a lack of Government planning and may feel pressured to accept inappropriate places in special education centres or otherwise, as they feel they have no other choice for their child;
furthermore notes that:
— the 13-step process of compelling schools to open special units under section 37A of the Education Act, 1998, far from an emergency response, is incredibly arduous and time-consuming; and
— the announcement from Deputy Josepha Madigan, Minister of State at the Department of Education that she will now begin to issue notices under section 37A of the Education Act, 1998 is unlikely to ensure that schools will open special units by this September, given the timing set out in the Act to undertake the 13-step process; and
calls on the Government to:
— publish the data they hold on the true number of children with special educational needs who do not have an appropriate school place for September 2022;
— bring forward emergency legislation to expedite the section 37A process, ensuring special units in schools who receive these notices will be ready for September;
— give a clear statement that the segregationist proposal of special education centres will not go ahead;
— recommit to ensuring that all children with special educational needs have an appropriate school place within a school community by September 2022; and
— undertake a review and appropriate forward-planning before the end of 2022, to ensure that we are not again faced with children with special educational needs without an appropriate school place in summer 2023.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
"notes that:
— a child's right to education is enshrined in the Constitution and, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, must be accessible on an equal basis with others in the community in which they live; and
— the Government is committed to ensuring that each child with a special educational need (SEN) has an appropriate school place, in line with their Constitutional right and Programme for Government: Our Shared Future commitments;
further notes that:
— the Government's aim is to ensure that every child with additional needs receives an appropriate education based on their needs; providing an appropriate school placement for every child with SEN in a timely and supported manner is a key priority for the Department of Education and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE); the Government is absolutely committed to delivering an education system that is of the highest quality and where every child and young person feels valued and is actively supported and nurtured to reach their full potential;
— special education is a priority area for investment for this Government, and this year the Department of Education will spend in excess of €2 billion, or over 25 per cent of the Department's budget, on providing additional teaching and care supports for children with special educational needs;
— the Government recognises that where parents have difficulties in securing an appropriate school placement for their child, particularly a child with additional needs, it can be a very stressful experience; and the Department of Education is working hard to ensure that there are sufficient school places, appropriate to the needs of all children, available on a timely basis nationwide;
— there have been an additional 380 teachers recruited to support students to be enrolled in new special classes and new special schools for the 2022/23 school year;
— the Department of Education will continue to engage with the NCSE, school patrons and school authorities over the summer months to increase capacity where needed, and so far 1,800 additional places in 315 new special classes will become available in September 2022;
— continuing to add capacity in schools and special schools to support SEN provision is a key priority for the Government, and two new special schools were established in Dublin in 2021;
— following on from strategic engagement with the Spiritan Education Trust, a new special school will be established in the 2022/23 school year in existing accommodation at the Templeogue College campus in Dublin, enabling it to cater for up to 150 pupils with SEN when completed;
— in Cork, a new special school has been established in the 2021/22 school year and another one will be established in the 2022/23 school year;
— the Government has implemented a number of strategic initiatives over the last two years to transform the planning and coordination of SEN provision;
— Deputy Josepha Madigan, Minister of State at the Department of Education recently announced that the section 37A process to compel schools to increase SEN provision has been initiated for a third time, and that this process is now underway, this process is currently being reviewed as part of the review of the Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 and this review will take into account actual cases where section 37A has been used and the effectiveness for the child;
— work is also currently underway, in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General, to consider whether emergency legislation would assist in the faster delivery of special educational placements;
— progress has been made in providing additional special class and special school places, however, the Government accepts that challenges remain in certain areas; and
— a key priority of the Ministers and Government is the delivery of special educational places for children who require such placements and intensive work will continue over the summer to provide further additional places for the new school year; and
furthermore notes that:
— significant investment has been made in the area of Special Education and that this is a key priority for both the Government and the Department of Education; and
— while significant progress has been made in adding capacity in schools and special schools to support Special Educational Needs, provision challenges still remain and that the Department of Education will continue to engage intensively with the NCSE, parents and all educational partners to continue to increase capacity."
- (Minister for Education)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding special educational needs school places. On Tuesday, 14 June 2022, on the question, "That the amendment to the motion be agreed to", a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 80(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 64; Níl, 51; Staon, 0.

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Jack Chambers and Brendan Griffin; Níl, Deputies Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Denise Mitchell.
Amendment declared carried.

Is the motion, as amended, agreed to?

Deputies

No. Vótáil.

Question put: : "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 64; Níl, 51; Staon, 0.

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Jack Chambers and Brendan Griffin; Níl, Deputies Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Denise Mitchell.
Question declared carried.
Top
Share