Saturday, 18 September 2010

Great day at the Harvest Fair

Managed to get out of my sickbed this morning to attend most of the first-ever Greenhills Harvest Fair. Although I was involved on the Organising Committee, the real plaudits should go to the community groups who came together to organise a fantastic event. Find some of the pics from the event below as well as a video. I'm off now to get ready for the Barn Dance - where did I leave that stetson?

EDIT - some great new pics added (the four above) taken by Brian McArdle of the 65th Scout Unit.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Press Release - Fianna Fáil Let the Mask Slip on Tallaght Kids’ Hospital, Says Looney

Labour Party Cllr Dermot Looney has slammed comments at yesterday's Council meeting by a Fianna Fáil Councillor who supports the closure of Tallaght Children’s Hospital. Looney’s reaction comes in the wake of the monthly meeting of South Dublin County Council in which Fianna Fáil Councillor Eamonn Walsh voted and spoke against a motion calling for the children’s hospital to be saved.

The motion, proposed by Labour Mayor Eamonn Maloney, asked Councillors to oppose the closure of Tallaght Children’s Hospital and the planned Government policy to relocate it to the Mater in the North Inner City.

“Tallaght Hospital has only been opened for ten years but for most of that time the Fianna Fáil/PD axe has hung over the head of the Children’s Hospital,” said Looney. “Tens of thousands of parents from across Tallaght and the rest of South and West Dublin – not to mention Kildare, Wicklow and other parts of the country – have benefited from this excellent and accessible facility, staffed by hardworking and dedicated personnel who themselves want the Hospital to stay in Tallaght.”

“Four years ago, then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced that a new Children’s Hospital would be built at the site of the Mater Hospital in his own constituency of Dublin Central. The scandalous lack of accessibility, parking and traffic issues around the Mater – never mind the cost – shows up yet another example of Fianna Fáil cute hoor-ism.”

“Ever since, Fianna Fáil’s representatives in Tallaght – particularly TD’s Conor Lenihan and Charlie O’Connor – have blustered and blown while our Kids’ Hospital faces the chop. They’ve put out leaflets and press releases and made speeches full of misinformation and spin, claiming to oppose the closure of the facility. One of them even turned up to a march organised by the Hospital Action Group and Mayor Maloney to save the hospital!”

“But now it seems, with Cllr Walsh’s incredulous speech on Monday, that the Fianna Fáil mask has slipped. Cllr Walsh’s bizarre suggestion that local parents should bring sick kids on the Luas to the Mater shows not only a heartlessness, but a cluelessness on FF’s part. His accusation of ‘emotional blackmail’ against Councillor colleagues who continue to support the hospital and its work shows Fianna Fáil at its core – nasty, brutish and unfair.”

"Labour wants the Children's Hospital to stay in Tallaght. We want to properly resource this modern facility which is easily accessible to hundreds of thousands of people. My colleagues Pat Rabbitte TD and Cllr Eamonn Maloney are standing on this ticket in the general election, whenever it comes - local voters should now be clear on where Fianna Fáil stands."

Friday, 3 September 2010

Reports of Children Being Turned Away from Special School Very Worrying

Tallaght-based Labour Party Cllr Dermot Looney has said that reports from St Joseph’s Special School in Balrothery that approximately 20 children with special needs were turned away from the school on its first day back yesterday are very worrying indeed. Parents were reportedly told on Thursday that the local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) had decided that children previously earmarked for the school would now need to await a decision later in the month to determine whether or not they could attend St Joseph’s. It is now unclear as to the arrangements for these children to attend school in the meantime.

Looney, who works as a primary school teacher at another local school, has called on the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to clarify the situation at the school as a matter of urgency. The NCSE tightened special schools criteria earlier this year and it is understood that these criteria are being used to justify yesterday’s announcement.

“The very existence of St Joseph’s was put under severe threat in February of this year due to Government cutbacks. At the time, the NCSE stated its intentions to cut 2/3 of the teaching and support staff, including a reduction from 16 to 6 teachers,” said Looney. “The school was also told it would lose 12 out of 17 Special Needs Assistants, although the cuts were somewhat alleviated on foot of a vocal campaign by parents and school staff.”

“In the case of yesterday's incident, it is unclear whether the local SENO had received, as reports are suggesting, the documentation on these children before the summer break, only to report today that children would have to wait until later this month before their situations are fully assessed. There is confusion over the designation of the special needs which apply to the school and it appears that the SENO has possibly taken a strict interpretation of “Mild General Learning Disabilities” which has discounted these children.”

“My understanding is that the school principal and staff, as well as parents, were until yesterday under the impression that the children were approved for attendance at the school. If this was the case it would appear that the Department of Education and Skills has failed in its basic duty of care to these pupils.”

“I understand the majority of the children concerned had been in mainstream schools last year and their parents had agreed to the huge step to move them to St Joseph’s. Uniforms were bought, transport arrangements were made and the children were all set for the year ahead when they were told the devastating news. The stories emerging from St Joseph’s of confused children in floods of tears coming out of the school are heartbreaking and everything must be done to ensure the situation for these vulnerable children is clarified immediately.”


Note: St Joseph's is a special school in Balrothery, Tallaght which caters for approximately 100 special needs children aged between 5 and 18. The school offers a range of FETAC programmes as well as the Junior and Leaving Certificate for older children. A discussion on the incident including eyewitness accounts, has been taking place on the Special Needs Parents Association Facebook page at!