Anne Rabbitte set to meet Cork principals to discuss disability services

The meeting comes in the wake of a public meeting in Cork earlier this month which saw angry scenes as Ms Rabbitte met parents and teachers of children with disabilities.
Anne Rabbitte set to meet Cork principals to discuss disability services

Anne Rabbitte TD, Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth at a meeting in Cork this month which discussed disability services. 

ANNE Rabbitte, the junior disabilities minister, is due to meet the principals of Cork schools that have previously lost therapists, as well as the principal of one special needs school that has never had any therapists.

The meeting is set to take place on Monday in Limerick and comes in the wake of a public meeting in Cork earlier this month which saw angry scenes as Ms Rabbitte met parents and teachers of children with disabilities.

At the meeting in Cork, Ms Rabbitte — the minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth — was told by school principals that since the introduction of the HSE’s progressing disabilities scheme, up to 60 therapists, — including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists — had been removed from schools in Cork.

Ms Rabbitte told the meeting that the HSE had given her a figure of 14.5 therapists (whole-time equivalents) removed from Cork schools, but she said she accepted that this might not be an accurate figure.

Carrigaline Special Needs Community School, a purpose-built special needs school which opened last year, has not had any therapists.

The public meeting in Cork heard repeated calls for the scrapping of the progressing disabilities scheme, with parents claiming it had regressed service provision and voicing a number of strong criticisms that no representative from the HSE was in attendance at the meeting.

A spokesperson for the HSE told The Echo: “Due to short notice, a representative from the HSE was unavailable to attend this forum and the minister’s office was advised.”

Cork North Central TD Pádraig O’Sullivan, Fianna Fáil’s special education spokesperson, said that Ms Rabbitte had given a clear commitment at the Cork meeting that she would arrange a meeting between school principals and the HSE.

“She made the commitment that she would set up a meeting between the principals and the HSE by the end of the month, and she has lived up to that commitment,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

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