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Donegal family win court challenge over special needs child

The High Court in Dublin

The High Court in Dublin

A DONEGAL family has won their High Court challenge over resource hours for their special needs child.

The family, along with a Dublin family whose children are Down Syndrome, have been successful in getting more than four extra hours for their children each week.

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The extra hours were granted on Thursday by President of the High Court, Justice Nicholas Kearns.

The judge’s intervention led to a temporary solution of a case over an allegedly inflexible policy of the Minister for Education which it is claimed would prevent the two children from remaining in mainstream schools.

The case centres on whether the children are entitled to additional resource hours from special needs assistants whose help is central to the children being part of mainstream education.

Following a suggestion to the Minister’s lawyers from Mr Justice Kearns, he later directed the Minister allocate four hours and 15 minutes additional resource hours weekly to the childrens’ schools.

The Minister’s lawyers stressed the solution  was “pragmatic” and “humane” but temporary, confined to these childrenss case and was not a precedent.

The Department of Education and Science is addressing the issues raised, not conceding any of the claims made and wants to avoid “an avalanche” of similar cases, its counsel David Hegarty SC said.

Speaking after the case, Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty said he was delighted for both families.

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“I am delighted that the parents have been successful in the High Court challenge and that the maximum resource hours have been allocated to the children at the centre of this case,” he said.

 

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