Agitators and anti-autism politicians have condemned a plan to set up emergency education centers to accommodate students with mental and physical disabilities who cannot get a place in school.
there is a serious lack of opportunities for students with autism and other additional needs in some areas, particularly in Dublin and Cork, with around 130 children in the capital alone still waiting for a place in September.
Special Education Minister Joseph Madigan is under pressure on the issue, and last night he posted on Twitter a plan to set up a network of temporary centers to accommodate children.
She said it was “early in development”.
But there was a stormy reaction from campaign participants, some of whom were present today at an online meeting with the minister.
The idea was also rejected by opposition politicians in Dáil.
Adam Harris, CEO of the autism charity, AsIAm, called the idea “non-initial”.
He said that while the department insisted it was at an early stage, “there seems to be confusion about the status of the project”.
Mr Harris said the special education centers would be “a violation of children’s rights and something we will not support under any circumstances”.
“We saw the idea at an early stage and believe it has no merits.
“There is a huge level of anger among campaign participants and parents.”
He said it was “clear that there should be some clarity on the part of the department”, which he said had pledged to work with stakeholders, and a further meeting is scheduled for next week.
“Nothing has been resolved, and there will be further discussions next week.
“We need to focus on finding a solution. It should not be about an emergency response, it is something that needs to be planned, and we need to study in depth how we are in this situation, ”he said.
Ms. Madigan tweeted that this was an additional measure to ensure that while children await a new special class in a comprehensive school, they can access a more stable level of support in an environment with peers of their age.
She said she wanted to emphasize that “this proposal is not a medium or long-term alternative to placing a special class in a school.”
She said children could “temporarily gain access to education at the new SEN Center and receive support to quickly move to a special class at a comprehensive school.”
“We are still working on this proposal and it is by no means a long term solution.”
She said children will have access to qualified teachers and assistants with special needs (SNA) in the new centers.
After today’s meeting, Ms. Madigan wrote on Twitter that the department has received many suggestions and ideas, and we want to find solutions that work for children with special needs in education.
Labor education spokesman Aodhan O-Reardin accused the government of “phenomenal disrespect” for people with autism.
He said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that the minister has not delved into his department.
“The issue of special school places has been simmering for more than five years. Instead of a fair and inclusive approach to providing education for all children, we will immediately learn about new plans to create emergency special school centers.
“It’s just outrageous and has caused a lot of concern and anxiety for parents.
“Unfortunately, they already know from past experience that these ‘short-term individual decisions’ will soon become the norm.”