Dermot Looney, a Labour Party candidate for the new Tallaght Central Electoral Area, has said that government plans to cut Special Needs Assistants (SNA’s) in schools should be shelved. Looney, a primary school teacher in Tallaght, said that reports that a review of 10,000 SNA’s will be undertaken by the government are part of a “hedge-school mentality” and are likely to result in swathes of job cuts unless pressure is put on the government to retain SNA’s.
“Special Needs Assistants are as crucial to modern Irish education as teachers or other staff,” noted Looney. “I have worked in schools across Tallaght and the wider area and know the amazing work carried out with special needs children by these committed and professional staff. Parents, children, teachers and all the other stakeholders in our education system are now distraught with news that SNA’s across Ireland are under threat.”
“SNA’s themselves have had a tough few months, with education cuts, income levies, pension levies and the variety of assaults on public sector workers all hitting home. Now the threat of thousands of jobs being lost means the myth of public sector job security, often the jeer of conservative commentators, is blown apart.”
“Cuts in special needs classes, teachers, resources and now SNA’s point to a government stuck back in time with notions of huge classes and no staff beyond the classroom teacher. The hedge-school mentality of Batt O’Keeffe and the Government has no place in an Ireland where special needs children have an absolute right to support from teachers, SNA’s and other staff and resources.”