I wish to share my time with Deputies Ó Caoláin and Ulick Burke.
Private Members' Business. - Literacy and Numeracy Problems: Motion.
Is that agreed? Agreed.
One of the great paradoxes of our education system is that, on the one hand, we pride ourselves on having a world class education system, which has underpinned our economic growth, and on the other, a UN report recently stated that 23% of our people are functionally illiterate. There is a further irony that on the same day as we debate the serious problems of literacy and numeracy in Ireland we mark the commencement of the leaving and junior certificate examinations.
I want to comment on the special interest devoted to these examinations. The extent of media coverage and public analysis of every minute detail of these examinations is worrying, if not downright bizarre. There is a sense of drama and excitement generated around every aspect of the examinations, particularly the leaving certificate. The lead-in to the examinations is comparable to the countdown to the launch of a space rocket or a prize fight. Weekly and daily analysis and interviews of everything from dietary requirements to recreational activities, mood swings, study patterns and revision programmes are recorded and analysed in detail. Stress is a word frequently bandied about. I have no doubt the exposure and frequent use of this word generates its own momentum. Anyone who does not already feel stressed probably feels deprived in some way.
The widespread analysis of the examinations is standard and the analysis of each paper, question by question, and the attitudes of parents, teachers and students has become a small industry. Is there any other country in the world where the national daily newspapers and the radio and television devote so much time and space to the reporting of examinations?
I take the opportunity of this debate to plead for an element of common sense and perspective in relation to the examinations. The leaving certificate is not the be all and end all of our educational experiences. There is educational life after the leaving certificate, whatever the outcome in terms of points, grades or other indi cators of achievement. It is important to note that there are other valid and valued indicators of educational achievement which are not necessarily academic. While we have concentrated on and heightened the profile of one type of educational achievement and benchmark, the leaving certificate points, perhaps we should review our value system and consider some additional reference points. My comments are not intended as a criticism of the examinations but rather of the surrounding hype. I also take this opportunity to wish all the students the best in the examinations.
Our extraordinary interest in academic achievement is matched only by the lack of interest in those who fall within the ranks of functionally illiterate for whatever reason. Recently published figures show that one in ten children leave primary school with serious literacy problems and that there has been little marked improvement in literacy levels in the past 20 years. The average level of performance in English has remained unchanged since 1980. The input of resources since 1980 has been significant. The average class size has been reduced and the number of remedial teachers has increased, but these added resources appear to have made little difference.
Recently, the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Woods, said the education system was generally in good shape. He added also that our best people could compete with the best in the world. This achievement is true and is something of which we should be proud. It is also the side of the coin which has contributed to the development of the economy. However, education is about much more than just the development of the economy; it is about the development of people and allowing every person to attain his or her full potential.
There is a danger that our current education system is designed and encouraged to ensure the survival of the fittest. Those who can hack it in the academic hothouse are cherished and nurtured but those who are disadvantaged and who lag behind for whatever reason are forgotten and neglected. Tackling educational disadvantage has become a cliché if we consider the number of times promises have been made and resources have been dedicated. However, when the learning outcomes are measured objectively, there is an embarrassing shortfall.
In every town and city teachers continue to struggle with large classes without the type of support systems required to break the cycle. There are children waiting for months for an assessment with an educational psychologist and speech therapy has reached crisis point. Children with dyslexia are frequently undiagnosed for months or years because of the lack of appropriate facilities. When they are assessed and correctly diagnosed they continue to wait for appropriate supports. It is not unreasonable that children diagnosed as being dyslexic should have a dedicated computer which would make an enor mous difference to their ability to participate and to be equal to their peers in the classroom.
Adult literacy is also a big problem that is not being tackled effectively despite all the promises. In a recent survey of eight countries Ireland had the second highest percentage of adults with the lowest levels of literacy. Participation in adult education in Ireland is also among the lowest in the OECD countries. Just over 20% of adults participate in adult education which is half the international average.
Adult education is still managed primarily by the voluntary sector and this should not be the case. There should be a much greater input of resources into adult education and literacy.
I thank Deputy Upton for sharing her time. One of the most damning statistics published about Ireland in recent years was that nearly a quarter of Irish adults have problems with even the simplest literacy task. The figure was met with disbelief by many but it came as no surprise to teachers and to the numerous parents who have children with learning difficulties.
This country shares with Britain and the United States the shameful distinction of having rates of illiteracy totally out of tune with their supposed developed societies and advanced economies. Contrast this with Sweden where the comparable rate of illiteracy is just 6%. Of course the root of the problem is that here, in Britain and in the US one of the chief indicators of the gross social and economic inequality which we suffer is educational disadvantage among large sections of the population. Like long-term unemployment and bad housing conditions, educational disadvantage crosses the generations.
That this situation pertains in the supposedly affluent society of Ireland in the year 2000, this millennium year, is a disgrace. It is an indictment of the stewardship of education by successive Governments, and none more so than the present Administration. Thousands of Irish children are leaving primary school without literacy and numeracy skills. These children have been robbed of the most vital learning years. They are being left behind because of the failure of Government to provide the necessary infrastructure to ensure that all our children are given an equal opportunity in education.
I would like to refer in particular to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD. For these children the earliest intervention possible is absolutely essential. At present there is a total lack of proper diagnosis and assessment and parents have told me of waiting lists of up to two years for assessment. I urge the Minister and the Government to seriously address this real and pressing need.
I thank Deputy Upton for sharing her time. Last night the Minister said literacy, numeracy and special education needs were a Government priority. I am fully aware of the fact that the Government cannot remedy these problems overnight. However, since 1997 this Government and the former Minister have done nothing. The statements made regarding the appointment of remedial and resource teachers to primary and second levels are a farce in that nothing has been done other than to take the teachers who would have been displaced as a result of declining numbers and place them, on a shared basis, between two or three rural national schools. The time that is made available for access to a remedial or resource teacher in any of those cases is 20 to 30 minutes per student per week. The Minister said remedial education is a priority with the Government so how can he stand over that fact? These few minutes per week of a child's learning time is nothing but a disturbance to the current position.
Talking about spending £300 million to resolve this problem is similar to what is happening in the health area with regard to the waiting lists initiative. The problem is growing and the statistics are there to prove it.
I wish to share time with a number of Deputies. I welcome the opportunity to contribute and I am glad the Minister stated that his key priority is tackling literacy, numeracy, special needs and disadvantage. The Government has been successful on a number of issues from pre-school to adult education.
As I represent a rural constituency I am glad the Minister spoke about ensuring the future of small schools and upgrading one teacher schools to two teacher schools. The fact that we have increased the education budget by 43% since 1997 speaks for itself. On the special education issue, the Minister has ensured that every child with special needs in every school has access to remedial teaching. However, I would not be complacent and, as the Minister said, neither is he. In rural constituencies there is a difficulty with classroom space for children with special needs. Extra remedial and resource posts require extra classrooms. A number of these have already been approved and built but we cannot continue to use cloakrooms as classrooms for children with special needs or have too many schools sharing one remedial and one resource teacher where such teachers are travelling long distances between schools.
Dr. Tom Kellaghan, Director of the Educational Research Centre, Drumcondra, attended a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Science last Tuesday. He spoke about the positive mathematics results attained by pupils in the class grades surveyed but he also spoke of the survey information that showed up to 9% of Irish 11 year olds have serious literacy difficulties. Dr. Kellaghan pointed out that we do not have a Third World education system which is how it is often described by the media. Ongoing research by Dr. Kellaghan and others on this issue should be supported and funded by the Government. He should have a board and be independent in the work he is doing at the research centre.
I welcome the focus on reading about which the Minister spoke. We have a new primary school curriculum which will be of great benefit in that regard. There will be need for extra funding for the book loan rental scheme which is of great benefit. As regards speech therapy services, there have been difficulties in this area for children with special needs. The number of hours for children with disabilities has been reduced in some instances in the Western Health Board area. I am glad that the Higher Education Authority is looking at the possible use of post-graduate conversion courses.
I acknowledge the work of Deputy Bruton in his first report on literacy published by our committee. There has been increased funding for that area. I welcome what the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, did in getting extra funding and the White Paper. The youth development project in Loughrea lodged an application with the Department of Education and Science and the Western Health Board for grant assistance. This project has initiated work with children, adolescents, parents and young mothers from the town of Loughrea and the surrounding areas and will be a resource for local young people.
When speaking of education we must look at teacher shortages which is the subject of a report we are examining in the Committee on Education and Science. There is grave concern about the large numbers of unqualified and untrained teachers in our primary schools and I am glad the Minister has published a Bill which will examine the training the needs of the profession, the programmes of teacher education and training and the recognition of qualifications of teachers trained outside the State. There is also a shortage of educational psychologists but the Minister is taking steps to increase the number substantially.
I pay tribute to the Ministers for Education in different Governments in recent years – Ministers who introduced schemes such as home-school liaison, the early start project and Breaking the Cycle, all of which have been very successful. The Government will continue to provide funds for those schemes. The Minister admitted that there are serious issues facing us but is determined to resolve those issues. I support him in his work and the implementation of these policies in the future.
Looking around the House, it is like a staff room at break time. It is good to see so many former teachers here but I hope others from different backgrounds will also contribute to the debate.
Even when times were really bad, Governments of all parties made a serious investment in education. There has been a record of radical innovation in the whole area. We all remember the Investment in Education documents drawn up in the mid-1960s and the late Mr. Donough O'Malley's initiatives for free education during his time as Minister. Some of us were even campaigned to abolish the leaving certificate. Those initiatives were promoted by all Governments and I commend previous Ministers for the work they have done.
It would be unfair not to acknowledge that the previous Minister, Deputy Martin, and the current Minister, Deputy Woods, have been innovative in the manner in which they have tackled education support. Education has been a priority for this Government because it underpins our economic success. We will continue to spend on it.
Not everything will be achieved in one full five year term of office. In the Government's second term, there is no doubt that we will continue many of the initiatives we drew up this term. The reading initiative is of great importance. Surveys have shown that we still lag behind our European counterparts in literacy and numeracy levels but we are making great progress. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the Department of Education and Science and the Education Research Centre in Drumcondra have been evaluating best practice, introducing new models and, from my contact with schools, I can see that we are making significant progress.
A great deal of money has been provided for school libraries. It was a crying shame in the past that the expenditure per student per year was £1 on library books. There is still only one library in one of the vocational schools in Dublin which has a full-time librarian attached to it. That must be addressed.
A comprehensive schools' psychological service is lacking. The Minister has expanded the service. That is extremely important. In terms of remedial provision, we have all taught in classes with the bottom 10% lagging behind but, in the past, there were never sufficient resources tailored to the needs of those children. They exist now and are improving. The IT initiative will have a dramatic impact, particularly for children with special needs. I am concerned about the integration of special needs children into primary schools. Such integration must be evaluated. When these children leave primary school, we do not know where they will go.
Much pioneering work is being done by the drugs task force. It is drawing up plans for the 14 most disadvantaged areas in the State. It does innovative work in the after school and pre-school areas, and in parallel programmes in schools. The Department of Education and Science should be represented at a senior level on the drugs task force. The education co-ordinator who liaises with the task force provides a good service but the other statutory agencies interfacing with it are represented at a senior level. The Department should be represented by the inspectorate on these task forces.
The lack of speech therapy services must be addressed. I was delighted to hear the Minister say that he and the Minister for Health and Children are trying to address the problem by way of postgraduate and conversion courses.
I look forward to the initiatives in the Green Paper on adult education being developed in the White Paper and in legislation. It was interesting to hear Dr. Kellaghan of the Education Research Centre saying that many of the findings of the OECD report on adult literacy have been misinterpreted by some media commentators. Undoubtedly there is an adult literacy problem but it is nowhere near as serious as some people say.
I commend the Minister for the wide range of initiatives in place. He conceded in this speech that Rome was not built in a day but reducing pupil teacher ratios, innovative approaches to pre-school education and intervention in adult and mainstream education will make a significant difference.
Too often it is easy to lambaste the Government about what is not being done, particularly from the Opposition benches. I had great fun doing it myself. I remember a previous Minister who would not accept deputations from any groups that came to see her. The answer to every parliamentary question I asked stated that nearly every child in Donegal was getting access to remedial education, in spite of the fact that 72 schools in the county had no access to remedial education. Statistics were being used in a manner which did not reflect the reality. In an area so broad it is easy to fire shots across the bow.
The previous Minister, Deputy Martin, turned the situation around in many areas. With Deputy Woods assuming responsibility for the Department, we are in safe hands in terms of redressing many of the dire situations which obtained in the past. It is widely recognised by the partners in education that the former Minister, Deputy Martin, did a fantastic job in the Department. I am sure the Minister, Deputy Woods, will carry on that tradition.
There is no doubt that the development of education forms the backbone of the Celtic tiger. Such development must remain a priority if future generations are to ensure that the concept of the Celtic tiger becomes the norm and does not remain a mystery. In recent years, the Celtic tiger has come to be perceived as something which just happened and certain people believe that it will fail in the near future. I do not believe it will fail, particularly if we focus on the needs of those young people who will ensure its continued success.
Never in the history of the State has so much money been invested in education. As with health and other areas, the more one spends on education the more one wants to spend on it. I have a list of projects in which I would like to see investment being made.
Education is a top priority for the Government and the Minister indicated that his key priority lies in tackling the areas of literacy, numeracy, special needs and disadvantage. It is important that those who are disadvantaged or who have special needs receive adequate support and attention. Anyone who has monitored debates on education during the past three to four years will be aware that this matter has been given priority and that great progress is being made in tackling many of the problems which exist. The partners in education recognise the fact that great strides have been made.
It is important to note that the education budget has increased by 43% since 1997 and that £13.35 million has been invested in in-career development, an increase of 100% on the figure for 1997. We must allow the process of in-career development to continue to evolve because the subjects taught in our schools are in a constant state of change. We must move with the times and, in that context, in-career development for teachers is extremely important.
We have continued to develop and implement new education legislation. The Select Committee on Education and Science has dealt with a number of Bills and I am aware that there are a number of others in gestation.
An important development in education has been the reduction of the pupil-teacher ratio to 18:1 at second level and 20.4:1 at primary level. This has ensured that every child with special needs has access to remedial teaching. In that context, there are now 1,463 remedial teachers in primary schools and 560 in secondary schools. However, in my opinion, and perhaps that of other members of the Joint Committee on Education and Science, consideration must be given to whether the existing remedial teaching system represents the best way forward. Children need support but the current system probably does not provide assistance to all those children who require it. However, I accept that moves are being made to improve current facilities. In October 1998 there were 104 resource teachers assisting children with special needs in the primary system but this has been increased to 450. The number of special needs assistants has been increased from 299 to 1,095.
It is important that children with disabilities should be given support. In that context, I urge the Minister to take note of the concerns of a group currently demonstrating at the Kildare Street gate. These people are requesting that adequate provision be made in terms of sign language training to the children of deaf people. If we are discussing the integration of people with special needs, the provision of such training is important not only to deaf children but also to other children. Sign language should be placed on the school curriculum because children are interested in it and it is a practical skill to possess.
The Minister stated that he is determined to tackle the outstanding problems in the education system and indicated that a great deal of work remains to be done. I congratulate the former Minister on the early school leaver initiative he introduced in respect of Inishowen. Under the initiative, £500,000 was allocated over three years for the purpose of investigating the problem of early school leaving in the Inishowen area. It is important that children obtain an education. At present, children who leave school without having passed the junior or leaving certificate examinations face an uphill battle in terms of trying to gain employment. This is a particular problem in my area where we face great challenges in terms of encouraging job creation. However, with the advent of peace in Northern Ireland and the re-establishment of the Executive there, I presume matters will improve in the near future in this regard.
Studies show that a great deal of work remains to be done. However, the problems surrounding the issues of adult literacy and children's literacy and numeracy are solvable. In terms of providing support for children with special needs, the Minister should consider the position which obtains in respect of the provision of grant aid to children in special schools. All schools have a number of pupils with special needs. The difference between the level of grant aid provided to those who attend mainstream schools and those who attend special schools is important because it has implications for the concept of integration. It is important that adequate resources be put in place because this will allow schools to provide the requisite support to children with special needs.
I hope that in the near future we can investigate the concept of encouraging parents to become involved in reading with their children. Perhaps a number of imaginative initiatives could be put in place in that regard because many children leaving primary school have difficulty in terms of their ability to read.
Children with special needs must be catered for within the education system. However, difficulties exist, particularly in areas such as the one where I live, in respect of the provision of speech therapy services. I am glad the Minister stated that he intends to solve many of the problems in this regard. However, he will be obliged to focus not only on the number of speech therapists to be appointed but also on the geographical considerations involved in their dispersal throughout the country.
I welcome the fact that the number of educational psychologists will be substantially increased. A commitment was made in this regard and I am glad the Minister intends to honour it. The provision of educational psychologists is extremely important, particularly for constituencies such as that which I represent. When in Opposition, I was able to complain that there was only one educational psychologist operating between two counties in my constituency.
The Deputy can still complain.
I accept that moves will be made to change that.
Education must be responsive to the world we inhabit. It should always be our aim to introduce practical activities and programmes which are pertinent to real life. In that context, we could do a great deal more in terms of improving educational programmes which deal with the dangers of smoking and drinking. If these programmes were made more appealing to children, they would come to see the link between the topics they are taught and real life. On last night's news, children from Carndonagh emerging from their examinations stated that they were stunned that the questions on the paper were relevant to their lives and that they were interested in answering them. One person stated that he usually tried to find one question he would like to answer but he discovered that there were four or five questions on yesterday's paper he wanted to answer.
I could proceed to list the various problems I want the Minister to solve. However, I will not take this opportunity to do so.
I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate and I congratulate the Minister, Deputy Woods, on his appointment as this is the first public opportunity I have had to do so. The Minister is eminently qualified to progress development in education. When we came into Government, Fianna Fáil made it clear that education would be a primary area of development. We see education as the driving force behind the economy.
The former Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Martin, concentrated on improving our educational infrastructure. Vast amounts of money have been spent on improving school buildings and equipment. Since 1997, there has been a 43% increase in the education budget and that is only proper. If we do not get our educational foundations right, our economy and society will not succeed in the future.
The current Minister outlined the urgent need to tackle literacy and numeracy problems, special needs and disadvantage as his main priorities. I agree with those aims. When I left university, I spent three years teaching. I taught in two different types of schools, one of which was fee paying and in which there were plenty of facilities, good discipline and parental involvement. The other school was the exact opposite and I witnessed enormous difficulties there. I followed the progress of some of the students from that school and most of them got into trouble with the law and ended up in jail or encountered other problems.
We must target young people at a very early age and schools provide a means to do that. To target young people effectively, teachers must be provided with the necessary facilities to tackle problems. The Government provided special needs assistants in schools and that has been of tremendous benefit. I am aware from my own area that such assistance has improved the lot of not only pupils who receive the assistance but of all the pupils in a school. It has assisted teachers to concentrate on teaching all their classes because they no longer have their hands tied by having to cater for some disadvantaged children. The number of special needs assistants has increased from 300 in 1998 to 1,100 this year. I hope the Minister will continue to focus on this area.
Resource teachers are also vitally important. The Government recognised the need to increase the number of resource teachers and the number has increased from 104 in 1998 to 450 this year. The problem is that in some cases resource teachers are being shared between too many schools. The Minister realises that and I hope future Ministers will continue to provide resources in this area. We must cater for the needs of children with difficulties because children who receive special care progress in leaps and bounds and this will benefit society.
The pupil-teacher ratio has decreased and it is important that pattern is maintained. One can readily appreciate the difference between teaching a class of 30 children and teaching one of 18, 19 or 20 children, where time can be given to individual pupils. I urge the Minister and the other members of Government to continue to aim to reduce this ratio.
I want to refer to pupils with dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactive pupils and those with hyperactive attention deficit disorder. It would be preferable for these students to be treated on a one to one basis. I thank the Minister and the former Minister for assisting many students in my area through the provision of extra tuition to pupils with these problems. I hope that in the years ahead, increased resources will be provided in the area of education in order that all students will have the opportunity to make a decent living and a meaningful contribution to society.
I wish to share time with Deputies Neville, Deenihan, Clune, Boylan, Connaughton, Gerry Reynolds and Sargent.
Is that agreed? Agreed.
I compliment my colleague, Deputy Richard Bruton, on tabling this motion. This debate is very timely as many young people are sitting their leaving certificate examination. However, thousands of young people will never have an opportunity to sit that exam. A recent TUI survey highlighted that almost one-third of students enrolled in schools in the last academic year were found to have reading abilities two or more years below the standard for their age. The latest literacy figures show that one in ten children leave primary school with significant literacy problems and that there has been little improvement in literacy levels in the past 20 years. This is in spite of the fact that the number of remedial teachers has increased by 600 to 1,400 in the past decade and that the cost of providing the remedial service has increased to £35 million. To date, this investment has made little appreciable difference.
An unco-ordinated approach has been adopted in the area of education. In fairness to the previous Minister, Deputy Martin, he did provide funding but unless funding is matched by the provision of proper structures, the problem will not be solved. Every child in the country has access to a remedial teacher, a fact which is to be welcomed, but children are not receiving a proper remedial service because teachers are being shared between up to five schools.
We pride ourselves on what we regard as a world class education system which has supported economic growth in this country. That one in four adults has been found to be functionally illiterate, unable even to read the information on a box of aspirin, is disgraceful. The Irish situation is the worst in western Europe. The problem of adult illiteracy could be overcome if students with problems were identified at an earlier stage in their school careers. Testing is necessary to ensure remedial education resources are sufficient and properly targeted. It is estimated that 85% of students who require remedial help in mathematics are not receiving any help at all and that remedial services in disadvantaged areas are not having any impact on reading ability.
The pressures of modern lifestyles do not help the education system. Parents have less time to do homework with their children. Gameboys and computers are diverting children's time from reading books. Issues such as sex and drugs education, which were previously dealt with by families, are now being loaded on to teachers. The sad reality is that many children are now more familiar with a remote control zapper or a computer mouse than with reading for pleasure.
There is little or no in-service training for remedial teachers. The initial teacher training course does not give sufficient attention to the skills needed to identify children with a remedial teaching requirement. Some have suggested that children may start reading too early at school and this allows them to start to fall behind at too early an age. Attempting to teach two languages, namely, English and Irish, from such a young age may be over-ambitious and perhaps we should look at this issue.
A recent study highlighted several shortcomings in the quality of remedial teaching, notably the lack of co-ordination between the work of the remedial teacher and that of the classroom teacher. Despite the recent huge increases in resources to tackle educational disadvantage and fund remedial education, the provision of such supports is in dire straits in many schools. We still have schools where the remedial class takes place in a cloakroom. One in five schools does not have a special room for remedial teaching. This is not a satisfactory situation in which to teach any child. No wonder these children are being stigmatised, thus compounding their problems rather than solving them.
Two in every three schools have an inadequate or non-existent psychological service. This was highlighted in a recent Fine Gael survey which discovered that two-thirds of parents have to pay privately for the assessment of their children because of the unavailability of such assessments by the Department of Education and Science. There is seething dissatisfaction among parents. They have to struggle for any service they get for their children. Schools are poorly informed of the requirements of children with special needs and are hopelessly under-resourced in tackling the problems presented. Despite the constitutional right to primary education most parents have to pay if their children are to get the help they need. Some have been forced into the courts because there was no other avenue of appeal when their children were denied the services to which they were entitled. We need to establish an education ombudsman as an intermediary to ensure that those parents and children receive their rights.
The Department of Education and Science must urgently develop coherent policies for special education. Services such as speech therapy must be provided directly by the Department. It is unacceptable to depend on the over-stretched resources of the health boards to offer such services to schoolgoing children. Each year only 26 speech therapists are trained and graduate from our universities. This falls far short of the demand for this speciality. I urge the Minister to examine the feasibility of establishing an additional school in NUI Galway for the teaching of speech therapy. While the Minister, in a response I received today, assumes no responsility for speech therapy he said last night that he will deal with the issue. I hope he does. The speech therapy service is chaotic. We have three outstanding vacancies in schools in my own county and that situation is repeated throughout the country. The more rural an area the less chance there is of having access to the services of a speech therapist.
The plight of children with special needs has been swept under the carpet. Money has been spent on educational disadvantage but we have seen no improvement in the situation. This raises serious questions which bring us back to the point I have already made. We are providing resources but we are not planning or putting structures in place. Without these we will not resolve the problem.
This situation is highlighted by stories told by remedial teachers. One teacher in a large second level urban school states of a recent first year class of 15 pupils:
Their reading abilities ranged from those of an eight year old to zero. Four children had to be taught the alphabet and basic social skills. Many of the children had behavioural and emotional problems. Some had attention deficit disorder and were hyperactive. These chil dren were unable to operate in a normal remedial class of 15 pupils.
What chance have these children in today's society or of sitting the leaving certificate in June 2005? None whatsoever.
FÁS and Teagasc are finding increasing literacy problems among apprentices and now have to run basic literacy classes alongside their courses. In today's information society low levels of literacy of the scale prevalent in Ireland would serve to alienate an even larger proportion of the population from daily life. A serious and concerted assault on educational disadvantage is urgently required. Intensive supports should include enhanced remedial teaching, including mathematics, projects aimed at preventing early school leaving and the provision of homework support and holiday time programmes.
Resolving the issue of educational disadvantage is at the heart of creating a just society for all.
I commend the motion to the House.
I welcome the opportunity to speak on this issue and I congratulate Deputy Bruton on his initiative in introducing it.
The Government has failed to meet the needs of children with learning difficulties, those who have numeracy and literacy difficulties and those in need of psychological assistance in our schools. It is not acceptable that, in deprived areas, 25% of children are regularly absent from school and half of them are chronically absent, that is, they are absent for more than 50% of the time. About 10% of primary pupils have serious learning difficulties, much more than in any other country at a similar stage of development. It is not acceptable that 17% of Irish people between the ages of 16 and 25 are at the lowest level of literacy, unable to read and follow the instructions on a packet of aspirin. An estimated 33,000 children of school going age have a disability but the Government does not even collect information about how they are faring. More than 20% have abandoned school by the age of 16 and this figure rises to 80% among the Traveller community. Nevertheless, few resources are directed by Government to deal with this problem and practically none to deal with the problems of literacy within the Travelling community. Progression to third level is less than 5% in some deprived areas of our society. It is not true that education is free to all. Those in deprived areas do not have an opportunity to avail of it.
After the home and the peer group, teachers have the greatest influence on the developing child. For some children school provides the greatest stabilising force in an otherwise unstable world. Therefore, the potential for guidance and help extends far outside narrowly defined schooling. The problems may change but students remain the same.
I am concerned about the adequacy of the schools' educational psychological services for the assessment of children attending national schools. This responsibility falls on the Department of Education and Science and it is singularly negligent in this area.
We have a very serious literacy and numeracy problem but now, more than ever, we have the resources to do something about it. I appeal to the Minister of State and to his Minister to avail of the opportunities now presented to them to put in place the necessary programmes and to resource these programmes properly. There are people who are unable to fill up a simple application for a job, a driving licence, a passport or a social welfare or health benefit. We have all met people who have asked us, as public representatives, to fill in forms for them because they were unable to do so themselves.
There is a particular problem in my constituency of Kerry North. There is no psychological service in the area. I know the Department tried to do something about it but I understand that there has been almost no school psychological service for the past year. That is serious. I do not have to remind Members that a school psychological service is more important than ever with the breakdown of family life, the disappearance of the traditional support of the extended family and the pressures on young people. It is very unfair that over 5,000 pupils are left without a school psychological service.
The issue of autism was brought starkly to my attention by a letter I received yesterday, and I will read some of the contents into the record:
Our son James is nine years of age and is in Class Middle I. His teacher . . . gives 100% to her pupils. She is kind, generous, lively in spirit and is an excellent teacher. There [is] a great rapport between the teacher and her pupils. They enjoy learning under her firm instruction. There are 10 pupils in the class . . . and only one classroom assistant. This is inadequate in order to give the children the attention and teaching they deserve. [The classroom teacher] stated that she needs 3 more classroom assistants.
James is nine years old now with 9 years schooling to go. His behaviour has improved over the last couple of months because of changes in his diet. James needs a classroom assistant of his own on a one to one so that the classroom assistant can keep up with James. James's teacher stated that James is very intelligent and that he has untapped potential.
That sums it up. A difficulty exists in that area and, while the Minister of State has made some progress, he, the Minister and the Government now have the resources to do something serious about this problem which is a national embarrassment.
At a time when the leaving and junior certificate examinations are under way and much media attention is focused on them, this motion is appropriate and it is timely that we would focus on the 23% of the population estimated by the World Health Organisation to be functionally illiterate. That statistic is a sad indictment of our education system. We hear little of the fact that so many potential students do not sit their leaving certificate and do not finish their education for the many reasons which have been outlined.
There has been a great deal of criticism of the fact that there is so little early intervention. In many cases it can assist young people in completing their education. A remedial teacher with whom I spoke recently and who has worked in the area for the past 20 years said that, in that time, there has been no improvement in literacy levels, so something is wrong and not working. We hear that more money is being provided and more remedial teachers are being recruited, but the system is not working. A part of the motion which should be adopted is the call for regular reviews of the outcome of remedial support and an examination of the way in which the general curriculum at primary level impacts on attainment, literacy and numeracy. The system we have at present is not working and fails one in four of our population.
I had a constituent in my clinic last Saturday who has a 12 year old facing secondary school this September. This is a traumatic time for any student and, in this case, it is a 12 year old boy going from a small local school to a large secondary school with many children. He was diagnosed two years ago in an in-class assessment as having a reading ability of a seven to eight year old and there has been no intervention since. He is going on to secondary school and has had no formal assessment and there has been no intervention. That child will certainly be one of the 23% unless the system intervenes to help him.
I welcome the opportunity to speak and compliment my party spokesman for giving the opportunity to have this serious discussion in the House. It is a sad reflection on the Department of Education and Science that we believe it necessary in the new millennium to have this problem aired here. I hope it will create a fresh start. There is a lack of understanding within the Department of Education and Science of the needs of young children and people with a handicap. The attitude within the Department is not how the lame dog can be helped over the stile but how to make it more difficult.
I have evidence to prove that from when I made numerous representations over the past weekend on behalf of a young person who suffers Down's syndrome and who is sitting her junior certificate. A request by her teacher, by her psychological report, by her parents and by me for a personal assistant to assist her in her English examination was refused point blank because of a lack of understanding and comprehension of people's needs. The answer I was given was that it might give an advantage to that young girl of 19 who has reached her junior cycle. How could a person with a handicap have an advantage over a person with all their faculties? It is incomprehensible that that is the attitude of the Department of Education and Science these days. It is unacceptable and the Minister of State must take the blame. This person sat her junior certificate English examination on Wednesday. Will the Minister of State provide a PA for her remaining three exams? Her parents have made a tremendous sacrifice and her teachers have made every effort but the Department has let them down. It is unacceptable and it is not good enough. It comes from ignorance within the Department. That is a strong term to use but I stand over it.
I also wish to highlight the case of a child with cerebral palsy who, because of his difficulty, has a writing problem. A request was made for a special needs laptop computer. The attitude of the Department was that, if he received one, other children would seek one. Does that mean that, if a child with a hearing problem requires a hearing aid, the Department of Health and Children cannot give it because all the other children will want one? Can anything be more stupid? Does that mean that, if a child receives a pair of glasses, all the other children will want glasses? That is the attitude of the Department of Education and Science. It was recommended by his teacher and by his psychological report that the child receive a laptop to help him overcome his difficulty in primary school. A little help can go a long way but it is lacking in the Department and the Minister of State must take final responsibility. It is not good enough to speak of our great education system when it fails those with the greatest needs. All they want is help.
I wish to highlight the great work being done in job opportunities by many State agencies which provide jobs for these young people so that they can take up meaningful employment and make a contribution to society.
I wish to specifically address to the Minister of State a matter which has been raised repeatedly, namely, the lack of psychological assessment programmes at primary level. What does the Minister of State think about a mother in north Galway who found out through her teacher that her eight year old child was about four years behind? The only measure that could be taken was to carry out a psychological assessment. This family has a medical card. They contacted the Department of Education and Science and the Western Health Board and were told that no such service was available to them. It is possible for the family to have the assessment done independently outside the education system, but it would cost about £250 and they do not have that.
We treat the water for children and give them orthodontic treatment to ensure their teeth are fine and we take many other measures to ensure their sight is fine. However, when it comes to the most basic and important factor of all, namely, ensuring they are in a position to take on the challenges life will present and to rub shoulders with the best in the world, we allow those people to fall behind. There were times when we could not solve this problem because we did not have the money to do so. When the Minister of State is summing up, will he tell us that, whatever else happens, we will give those young people an opportunity to undergo a proper assessment of their capabilities?
If that assessment were done at four or five years of age, before children fall too far behind, it would be much more beneficial to the boy or girl concerned than if it were done at ten or 12 years of age. We are talking about human beings getting a start in life and surely there is no better place for the Minister to start than by providing those assessment services.
I am also glad to have an opportunity to speak on this motion. Many of my colleagues have raised various issues regarding the lack of proper education and facilities. We all believe that education is a fundamental right of every person, but the Department does not provide a proper support system for people who pass through the system without a proper education and end up weak and vulnerable in our society.
I have had a number of complaints from parents in my area about the remedial system. There is still a stigma attached to remedial education. Some parents are extremely concerned that remedial teachers have not received proper training.
I have had numerous complaints in this regard and I am aware of one case where two parents had to sit in the classroom with a teacher who was providing remedial education for their children because they felt the teacher was not providing them with a proper education. There will always be difficulties, but the resources must be put in place to provide teachers with proper training and back-up from the Department of Education and Science so they can give a proper education to children who need remedial teaching.
I also have great difficulty with the number of unqualified substitute teachers in primary schools. There is a major crisis in this area and the Government must take action to ensure more students go into primary school teaching because the foundations of education are laid in primary school. Most of the resources should be given to primary school education and primary school teachers.
There are many other issues to be resolved but one of my main concerns is the stigma some parents attach to remedial education. Many do not want their children to enter remedial education. The Department must provide parents with more information in this area. The lack of such information probably stems from poor communication between the Department and the teachers at the coalface.
I advise the Minister that for the first time in a long time the resources are available. He must prioritise where the resources should be spent. If that is done properly, the number of people who come through our educational system with literacy and numeracy problems will be greatly reduced.
Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis an Teachta Richard Bruton agus le Fine Gael as a gcuid ama a roinnt agus as an rún seo a chur os comhair na Dála.
It is ironic to hear the Taoiseach protesting about the ban on corporate donations to political parties being unconstitutional when Article 42 of the Constitution contains a clause stating that the State shall provide for free primary education. All of us who have been involved in teaching or as parents will know that clause is being breached by this Government. Fine Gael was also magnanimous in their acknowledgement that previous Governments have also failed in that regard. Apart from the literacy and numeracy issues which are critical, on an international basis our children are also seen as very unfit, both physically and mentally.
In Balscadden national school in my constituency in Dublin North a small gym is being used as two classrooms. This adds to the pressure on pupils as well as on teachers. There are no plans in the Department of Education and Science for additional primary schools in Balbriggan, the population of which will increase from 9,000 to 25,000 in ten years. All these matters are interrelated and the Department needs to act more proactively and with the future in mind.
There are difficulties with regard to caretakers. Teachers, who are not even able to do the work they are trained and qualified to do, have to do all sorts of handiwork in schools which is badly needed.
Disadvantaged areas are hit most by teacher shortages. The workload on the remaining teachers is greater, fund raising duties are greater in disadvantaged areas, home school support is greater and there is a need for a greater special allowance for those who teach in areas of disadvantage. This also involves remedial teaching. The qualification is not rewarded sufficiently and there are not enough places where one can train to be a remedial teacher to ensure a sufficient supply of such teachers. Again, this comes back to numeracy and literacy problems.
I have had complaints from teachers in Carlow, Kilkenny and countrywide who have been employed in a temporary capacity for 30 years or more. They do not have the opportunity to train and qualify so they can be paid properly and do the job which they feel they could do if they obtained the qualification.
Ar deireadh, ó thaobh gaelscoileanna de, ceapaim go bhfuil siad san buailte leis an míbhuntáiste chomh maith mar níl na téacsleabhair nó na háiseanna le fáil acu mar a bheadh as Béarla and the education for people who are deaf. They will not be able to hear this but they have a huge problem in that there are not enough sign teachers in this country and they have to go to the UK to be educated.
I thank the Deputies who have contributed to this debate, many of whom contributed very constructively. We carefully noted what they had to say.
There can be no doubt this Government, since taking office, has both identified the outstanding problems of education and has worked unstintingly to address them. Much has been done but much remains to be done. There remains a problem of poor levels of literacy, both in school leavers and across the population more generally. As a Government, we are keenly aware of this and that we cannot be complacent in this matter. We must keep up the pressure and the impetus for further development in this area. We must ensure that in the future no person fails to reach his or her full potential as a result of inadequate literacy and-or numeracy skills.
The Government is determined to tackle the problems of literacy and numeracy at all levels. All citizens must be equipped with the basic skills they need to allow them to participate fully in and contribute to society. As Minister of State with particular responsibilities in the area of adult education, I am acutely conscious of the importance of adult education and of the major work which remains for us to do in this regard.
For that reason I have committed myself to tackling this problem during my period in office in the Department of Education and Science. The Minister, in his opening remarks, outlined what has been done in the area of adult literacy in recent years, and what is planned for the future. Initiatives include the tenfold increase in provision for adult literacy over and above the shameful provisions of less than £1 million per annum which we found in existence when we took office. There is a provision in the national development plan for an investment of £73.8 million in the coming years for adult literacy which will be supplemented by a £1 billion initiative under the back to education initiative.
We have also taken a number of major initiatives in the area of adult literacy in the past, including the establishment of an adult literacy development fund to fund a range of pilot actions to test models and innovatory approaches which will inform future practice in this area, the increase in the number of clients being catered for on an annual basis from 5,000 to 13,000, the introduction of a number of innovative schemes to improve literacy, a very substantial expansion in staff development which is proceeding apace, literacy programmes through the media and an interdepartmental group on literacy for the unemployed, part of whose interim report is already being implemented. The White Paper on Adult Education, which I hope should be published later this month, will deal in a comprehen sive way with the Government's strategy on adult education, including adult literacy.
However, adult education is only one manifestation of the literacy difficulties we currently face. Literacy difficulties begin in school and at pre-school level. Their solution can be found in the home, in pre-schools, in schools and in other educational establishments more generally.
This is a comprehensive motion and Deputy Bruton deserves credit for the work he put into it. I thank the Minister for his general remarks. Statistics tell their own story. The first priority question today says that according to a survey carried out by Fine Gael, 44% of parents believe facilities are inadequate for special needs for children. Some 59% of people think the Taoiseach is telling lies about money, 69% think he is the greatest thing that ever happened and 89% think the appointment of Mr. O'Flaherty to the European Investment Bank was a disgrace.
On a point of order, did I hear Deputy Kenny say the Taoiseach was telling lies?
The Minister of State did not. I said 59% of the people think he is telling lies. That is what the Minister of State heard.
Time is not on the Minister of State's side but he has the money and the resources to do an effective job in this area. There is no greater disgrace for politicians on all sides than to look into the eyes of a child and to see incomprehension and inability. I pay tribute to Mr. Ernie Sweeney from Castlebar who went through the primary school system illiterate, learned to read and has brought about an acceptance, in principle, by the Department of the Environment and Local Government that photographs should be used on ballot papers in all elections. It is a Davidv. Goliath situation where a young lad went through the school system and achieved this remarkable turnabout.
The Constitution guarantees everybody standards in education and the Minister of State and his senior colleague, in the time left to them, can do an effective job in promoting facilities for disadvantaged children. Like in the duck race in Turlough last Sunday where all the little ducks were given numbers and the current brought them across the finish line, students doing the junior and leaving certificates today were also given numbers and some have struggled with Olympian competitiveness to be where they are and they deserve our gratitude and assistance and the Minister of State's co-operation. The future of this country will be built on the brain power of our young people who need the Minister of State's attention and the Department's co-operation.
Is the Deputy sharing his time with Deputies Olivia Mitchell, Belton and Richard Bruton?
Yes. I am not too sure if Deputy Belton will make an appearance today from the dugout.
I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate because we cannot continue to ignore the signals that something is amiss in our education system – signals such as the high level of illiteracy and the low level of numeracy, which have been mentioned, the growing number of early school drop outs, the increased number of disruptive and, in some cases, uncontrollable children in our classrooms, the strong correlation between dropout and multiple disadvantage and the fact that more and more of our teenagers drink and do drugs at a younger age and more often than those in other European countries. We cannot ignore what teachers are saying about the frustration they feel when they see children dropping through the net, about how much of their time in the classroom is taken up with crowd control and about early burnout and their demands for early retirement. These are all symptoms of the same problem, which is that we are failing so many of our children and placing intolerable pressures on their teachers.
On the need for training and retraining of teachers, at the moment the training colleges concentrate and equip teachers to teach the average child but not the child with learning difficulties. Teachers may succeed in recognising and identifying a problem early on but if they do not have the skills and the training to deal with those problems, it is of little use. It means that in many classes, the bottom one third of children learn little or nothing. In a classroom where that situation pertains, every child under achieves, and I suspect this pertains in more classes than we care to think about.
Apart from training mainstream teachers, there is also a need for targeted intervention once a problem has been identified. For instance, if a child of seven or eight years has not learned to read, he or she will not learn to read despite the best will in the world on the part of the mainstream teacher. In a class of 28, a child will not learn to read if he has not done so by then. We should look to other countries to see what kind of system of targeted intervention we can put in place.
The main problem, which has been mentioned again and again, is that of early identification of the problem. Before a teacher can do anything to help a child, he or she must know what the problem is. Assessment is not available and all schools are reporting difficulties in getting their children assessed. Even if they identify the problem, the waiting list is so long – it is sometimes years – by the time the child is assessed, the outcome is irrelevant because the child is probably at the drop out stage.
In my constituency, a school in a disadvantaged area recently told me that it paid out £1,700 to have 13 children assessed because it had waited for so long for the Department to come up with this service. Out of sheer frustration, it was forced into this situation. This happens again and again throughout the country. It is completely unacceptable that disadvantaged communities should dig into community funds to have a child assessed, never mind doing anything about the problem when they are assessed. I would go further and say that rather than have a psychological assessment on demand, which is the very minimum, there should be a national screening programme for children when they reach seven or eight years of age. It is far too late to assess children when they are doing their leaving or junior certificates. What can be done if they have failed at five, six, seven or eight years of age? Instead of anad hoc, patchy system of assessment, there should be a national screening service which would give us the information required by the Department to make the decisions about the kind of resources needed.
The contrast between the Minister's remarks last night and the real life stories told by up to 24 Deputies, who spoke in a very short period, speaks more loudly than anything else in this debate. The contrast could not have been more stark. The Minister came into the House and put a bulldog clip around 20 or 30 of his scripts of press releases and rolled out a soliloquy about programmes, planning groups, guidelines and curricula. The real danger is that perhaps the Minister believes his own rhetoric and that we are getting to grips with literacy and remediation problems in our system and the needs of children with special needs. That is not the reality and it goes to the core of the problem.
The difficulty in our education system is that the Department and the Minister are so detached from the reality and they have sought to run our education system on a highly centralised model – an input, output model – that leaves them totally remote to the realities. One could not illustrate that more vividly other than by looking at the fact that there are 33,000 children with a special education need in our system. Unless they are in special schools, the Department does not know about them. It does not have a proper data base of their needs and what they are getting. If we asked the Minister how many children with special needs are getting services specified for them, he could not tell us; he could not answer that question. This Department has tried to run our education system remote from the reality. It is an input, output model. It is great for the 60% or 70% of children who do well; they will survive in any environment and we have excellent teachers who have helped them to survive and thrive in our education system.
If one is the child at the back of the class with a learning difficulty, whether dyslexia or attention deficit disorder, one has little chance and the Department does not have an answer. That was borne out time and time again in the individual, real life stories related by Members who contributed to the debate. Principals are expected to play God in schools throughout Ireland. Ten of their pupils may need assessment but they can only cater for three. They will play God and sel ect three while the other seven will just have to cope and take their chances in the classroom. It is not right in a time of plenty that principals should be put in such a position. That is what is happening in deprived areas in Dublin and around the country. Teachers and principals are trying to make decisions about children which affect their futures. They should never have to make those choices.
Last night we heard about a mother on social welfare who had to dip into her own pocket to pay for an assessment of her child who had reached the age of 11 and was unable to read or write. Where is the just society to which we aspire in 2000 where a woman on social welfare must find £200 or £300 for such an assessment? There is no justice in that but the Department and the Minister will not give that mother the right to have the assessment carried out for free. They will not provide that legal right to which these parents should be entitled.
The parents of children with special needs are seething with frustration. If the Minister attended any meeting where such parents are assembled he would blanch at their anxiety and frustration. Many parents give up their own precious time, of which they have so little, to attend meetings to explain what is happening. We recently conducted a survey of parents of children with special needs. The level of dissatisfaction and failure to provide services for these children whom we should cherish was frightening. There is a constitutional obligation on the State to cherish them, yet such children do not get the services which were specified for them in their assessment.
Half the parents surveyed found that their children get almost none of the services that were specified for them in their assessment. Some 72% of parents said they were totally dissatisfied with the level of information available to them when their children were identified as having special needs while 40% were dissatisfied with the quality of the service provided. They found that only one in seven schools to which they presented their children had the resources to deliver a special service and only one in three schools even had information about the needs of such children. That is the reality on the ground and that is why parents are seething with anger. That must be addressed. Time and again the Minister and his predecessor when they had opportunities in the House, such as the Education (Welfare) Bill, 1999, to enshrine rights for those parents, such as the right to appeal when they do not obtain proper services, refused such approaches.
That is happening today in this House and we must shake off this complacency. One does have to go back to our predecessors in more unenlightened times. If the Minister cared to do what I have done and surveyed parents of children with special needs to find out what is their attitude, he would find it instructive. That is the information which his officials will never present to him but he must expose himself to such information if he is to address the challenges and problems in this area.
We examined speech therapy. A parent can expect eight minutes of speech therapy for his or her child in a majority of cases. The Department committed itself to a number of targets recently. In late 1996 it set a target that there would be no children with literacy problems at early primary level. The Government has done nothing about that and we are worse off than when the Department entered into that commitment. It has spent £800 million over the past three years on extra education services. I estimate that £30 million was allocated to children with special needs or literacy problems. Where are the priorities that the Minister set? The priority must be with those children who leave school early with poor literacy problems and end up unemployed.
The Department will not present the radical options to the Minister which are needed. Legal rights are needed for the parents of children with special needs so that they do not end up interminably going to the High Court seeking rights for their children. We need to volunteer those rights to them and allocate resources to them. The lion's share of spending by the Department over the past three years has been on third level education. Third level students are predominantly privileged young people who can look to high income as the outcome of that spending. Where is the Minister's commitment to the children who will end up unemployed with poor reading skills, shut out time and again from a decent opportunity to partake in society? It is up to the Minister to make such commitments and I call on him to refocus his priorities and not roll out scripts from his Department's word processor which has happened time and again.
Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Browne, John (Wexford).Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.de Valera, Síle.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John.Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Rourke, Mary.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.
Barrett, Seán.Belton, Louis.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Crawford, Seymour.Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deenihan, Jimmy.
Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.Finucane, Michael.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Joe.Howlin, Brendan.Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny. McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Olivia.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.Owen, Nora.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerard.Ring, Michael.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.Yates, Ivan.