SENATOR Brian Ó Domhnaill has claimed that Fine Gael and Labour have blocked attempts by him to hold an emergency debate on the future of two special needs pre-schools in Donegal.
Senator Ó Domhnaill called for the Health Minister James Reilly to come before the Seanad to discuss the threatened closure of St Agnes Special Needs Pre-School in Donegal Town and Ballaghderg Special Needs Pre-School in Letterkenny. But the request was blocked by government Senators, including Donegal Senator Jimmy Harte.
“Government policy is forcing the closure of St. Agnes Special Needs Pre-School in Donegal Town in 2015 and Ballaghderg Special Needs Pre-School in Letterkenny in 2015. Both schools provide essential specialised care to children with severe disabilities and people are struggling to understand how the Health Minister could justify their closure,” explained Senator Ó Domhnaill.
“Once again the government is targeting children with special needs who have been forced to bear an unreasonable level of cuts over the past two years. Since this government came to office the funding for these two schools has dropped from €770,000 to €630,000. Now Minister Reilly and the HSE plan to shut down both facilities entirely within two years.
“This will have an enormous impact on children with specific special needs in Donegal. These are children who can only be accommodated in a safe and specialised environment that caters for their specific needs and helps them to manage their disabilities. I find it outrageous that the government would consider pulling its support from these facilities without facilitating a debate about it.
“The Fine Gael and Labour Senators who blocked this debate showed a clear lack of compassion for the very genuine concerns of parents and staff. It shows the government simply isn’t interested in supporting these excellent facilities.”