Dermot Looney, the Labour Party candidate in the new Tallaght Central ward in June's local elections, has called for special needs class cuts targeting local schools to be reversed. Greenhills-based Looney, a primary school teacher who works in Tallaght, was commenting in the wake of another savage week of cutbacks in education, with almost 120 schools hit by the effective closure of special classes and withdrawal of support for special needs children.
The schools in the Tallaght Central ward affected are:
- St Peter’s BNS, Limekiln Road, Greenhills;
- St Mary’s School, Greenhills Road, Tallaght Village;
- St Paul’s GNS (Senior), Limekiln Lane, Greenhills;
- Scoil Nmh Aengusa (Sinsear), Balrothery;
- St Mark’s Senior NS, Springfield
· each of which will lose 1 special class
- St Brigid's NS, Brookfield;
- St Aidan's NS, Brookfield;
- St Anne’s Primary School, Fettercairn
· each of which will lose 2 classes.
Looney, 26, has launched a petition locally to Minister O'Keeffe aimed at reversing the cuts.
"It is no coincidence that the majority of these are in working-class communities and areas of socio-economic disadvantage," noted Looney. "This really is the lowest of the low from this clueless government who are putting their banking buddies and developer donors ahead of the most needy. The sickening excuse that the policy is to mainstream these pupils is nothing but nonsense – mainstreaming should only take place when children are ready.""The trend in recent years has been to accommodate children with learning disabilities in mainstream schools, with much of the old 'special school' infrastructure being dismantled. If the replacement infrastructure in mainstream schools is itself now being dismantled, that means that these children are being left high and dry. Services for kids with special needs have come under sustained attack in recent years, with many local schools already suffering from severe cutbacks in Special Needs Assistants numbers."