Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council and primary schoolteacher, has said that reports of Government plans to axe hundreds of Special Needs Assistant posts are worrying in the extreme. Looney, a fifth class teacher in St Dominic’s School in Tallaght, has said that reports of direct cuts revealed in last week’s Irish Independent come on top of a review of SNA places which is reported to seek cuts of 1200 posts out of 17000 part- and full-time positions nationwide.
The review, announced in March, was followed by proposals from ‘An Bord Snip Nua,’ the cuts body chaired by right-wing economist Colm McCarthy, which proposed cutting 2000 full-time SNA’s.
“Special Needs Assistants are as crucial to modern Irish education as teachers or other staff,” noted Cllr 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, compounded by the ensuing disruption to pupils caused by lost places in the middle of the academic year.”
“Low-paid SNA’s were hit with huge cuts in take-home pay under Budget 2010. 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.”
“The impact on special needs children and their classmates will be similarly vicious. 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.”