A local TD has condemned cuts and “broken ministerial promises” at Augustine’s Special Education School in Blackrock.
In a statement, People Before Profit TD for Dun Laoghaire Richard Boyd Barrett TD condemned “disgraceful” and “sneaky, stealth cuts” to the “vital vocational services” at the school.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said that St John of Gods, who run the school and the HSE, who funds the vocational services for students with mild learning disabilities were guilty of implementing “nasty, behind the door cuts to critical vocational services provided to vulnerable children”.
Deputy Boyd Barrett, who said he has been contacted by a number of parents at the school, said that protests by parents in 2016 at previous attempts by St John
of Gods to cut vocational services at the school resulted in the cuts being withdrawn and a written pledge being given by Minister Simon Harris and by the HSE itself, that the services would be retained in full pending a review in July 2019.
However, Deputy Boyd Barrett said he has recently been made aware that two of the vocational services in woodwork and car valeting had been axed in the last number of weeks without any formal notification of parents and in “breach of the minister’s pledge”, following the retirement of the instructors of these courses.
Deputy Boyd Barrett believes it was “totally unconscionable that the government would allow St John of Gods and the HSE to do this to vulnerable children with disabilities only a short time after the government had finally ratified the UN Charter on the Rights
of People with disabilities.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett said he has already written to Minister for Health Simon Harris, last
week, about the cuts to services at St Augustine’s and is calling on Minister Harris and Minister with responsibility for disabilities, Finian McGrath, to urgently intervene with St John of Gods and the HSE “to ensure the parents are fully informed and that the two
axed services were immediately restored and that all the vocational courses were safeguarded into the future.”