CONCERNS have been raised over a potential shortage in places in special classes in Cork City and county this September.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central Padraig O’Sullivan said Cork was short in the region of 10 places in special classes ahead of the new academic term.
However, Mr O’Sullivan said the situation was “solvable” in Cork, adding that he had presented a potential solution Norma Foley, the education minister.
Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said “inadequate” places in special classes was a recurring issue for families.
“The issues of inadequate places in special classes are an issue every year,” Mr Ó Laoghaire said.
“It is a significant problem for families in Cork, in Dublin, and elsewhere.
“I cannot understand why the department has the data, the powers, and the budget, and yet they did not seek to use those powers to ensure adequate places are available every September.
“It is children who end up paying the price, either when they don’t get a place or end up in an unsuitable place. I hope the Government focuses on urgently getting places in schools for these children.”
The Taoiseach, in a response to a parliamentary question last week from Mr Ó Laoghaire, said the Government was doing everything it could to find additional places and capacity in schools.
“The Government is doing everything it possibly can with the National Council for Special Education [NCSE] to find additional places and additional capacity in schools,” Micheál Martin said.
“We are looking at simplifying and clarifying the legislation to oblige every school in the country to be inclusive and to make sure that the doors are open for applications in all schools for children with special needs.
“In tandem with that, Government will provide the requisite resources of both teachers and physical accommodation to meet what should be a fundamental principle in education.”
The NCSE has been contacted for comment.