St Gabriel’s, the Cork school where parents have launched a €200,000 crowdfunding campaign to cover the cost of repairs, was the subject of an exchange in the Dáil between the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the Taoiseach during yesterday’s Leader’s Questions.
Forty-three children with severe to profound intellectual disabilities (ID) attend St Gabriel’s, which is currently the only school in Cork that can enrol students with a dual diagnosis of ID and autism.
“These are children who should be our number one priority, but they are being neglected by the Government in their need for a new school building,” Mr Martin said.
“The parents say they feel forgotten. The existing school building has huge issues.
“The bathroom is not big enough for wheelchairs to fit, there is no hot running water, the roof leaks, there are no dedicated toilets for children with medical needs, there is a lack of infection control and the sensory room is in a windowless outbuilding,” added Mr Martin.
As revealed in the Evening Echo, the school’s Parent’s Association launched a charity GoFundMe campaign to try to cover repair costs.
Mr Varadkar responded to Mr Martin by saying the government was set to invest €10 billion in education this year.
Sinéad Desmond, chair of St Gabriel’s Parent’s Association, said she and fellow parents were grateful to Mr Martin, the only politician to have raised the school’s plight in the Dáil so far, despite many being made aware of the horrendous conditions our children go to school in’. “He is correct in saying we are forgotten,” Ms Desmond said.