Troy blasts Minister over SNA response

Outgoing minister refuses to wade into St Christopher's SNA controversy

Troy blasts Minister over SNA response

Outgoing Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan has distanced herself from indicating whether a decision to cut two special needs assistants at St Christopher's Special School will be reversed.

The Labour TD was responding to a parliamentary question submitted by Fianna Fail's Robert Troy last week.

In her reply, Ms O'Sullivan said it was a matter for independent state body the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to oversee the appropriate allocation of SNAs for schools.

“The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually, taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support,” she said.

As one of only seven Labour TDs to retain their seats at last month's general election, Ms O'Sullivan came in for stinging criticism from the parliamentary question's original author, Robert Troy.

“The Minister has once again failed to give security to this vital service,” he contended.

“St Christopher's are in constant battle with the Department over SNA allocations and deserve assurances that the current allocation will at least be untouched.

“The Minister is showing a complete lack of respect for the Disability Sector and in particular for the staff and clients of St Christopher's. This is an excellent service and must be supported.”

His comments come after hundreds of people took to the streets of Longford last month to register their opposition to the decision.

Chairperson of the School's Board of Management, Eugene McGee, said he was not surprised to learn of the minister's reply.

“We got one of those (replies) to one I wrote myself and it's the same old rigmarole,” he maintained.

“These types of things are most probably written by a civil servant or are on some computer somewhere and the names are just changed.”

Despite the tone of the response, Mr McGee said the board had not entirely given up hope of reinstating the school's full complement of SNAs in time for the start of the new school year in September.