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Mayo associations march on Taoiseach’s office over SNA cuts

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Special needs protest at Taoiseach’s office


Kevin Moran

OVER 60 people gathered outside Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s constituency office in Castlebar to voice their concerns over cuts to Special Needs Assistant funding.
Taking part in the rally last Wednesday evening were representatives from ÁIRC-Supporting Children with Disabilities and the Mayo Down Syndrome Association – who were highlighting a 10 per cent cut in SNA support.
The demonstrations went ahead despite the earlier reversal of a cut to resource teaching hours for children. However, parents still believe that cuts in Special Needs Assistants will remain.
Chants of ‘When they say cutbacks, we say fight-back’ echoed through Tucker Street during a day of nationwide demonstrations regarding the cuts.  
“With an increase of over 8,000 pupils with special needs requiring resource hours since 2011, you can’t have it both ways. Either provide children with the essential supports in mainstream to fulfill their potential or admit that the policy of inclusion in our education system is based on rhetoric and is aspirational but not a priority for Government,” stated Lorraine Dempsey, Chairperson of the Special Needs Parents Association.
Organisers described the protests as a huge success and everything went very smoothly with a number of passers-by offering their support. However, after an hour the burglar alarm in Mr Kenny’s office was set off accidentally – which upset some of the children with sensory issues.
“In my opinion the government is not doing the courageous thing which should be to tackle the excessive pay that civil servants and government ministers have,” said Dr Stephen Manning,” based in Belcarra.
Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív also addressed the issue last week saying the government were punishing its most vulnerable citizens.
He was not at the protest in Castlebar.