Thursday, 23 March 2017, Leaders’ Question Bord na Móna Factory Littleton.
Deputy Michael Lowry Leaders’ Questions on Thursday 23rd March in connection to the Bord na Móna Littleton Factory following this week revelations that Bord na Móna is carrying out a comprehensive review of its briquetting operations.
Michael Lowry (Tipperary, Independent)
I wish to raise the issue of the Government’s position with regard to support of Bord na Móna. Bord na Móna, in particular, the Littleton plant in my constituency, has been traditionally known for its production of briquettes for more than 40 years and has given valuable employment to people from Littleton, Killenaule, Templetuohy, Thurles and surrounding areas. The facility in Littleton can be traced back to Bord na Móna’s roots. Recently, to safeguard the facility in Littleton, workers have accepted restructuring proposals from management and unions through the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. This is a clear commitment that the workforce at Littleton briquette factory is committed to its future.
Recently we have heard about a Bord na Móna review of peat production operations and briquette manufacturing factories. This has led to concerns and fears among more than 120 workers at the Littleton plant. Bord na Móna is going through a difficult time in terms of the sales of briquettes, principally because of the imposition of carbon tax at the insistence of the Green Party in the 2010 budget. At that time, I negotiated a derogation for peat produced products but it was reintroduced in 2013. Since 2013 the carbon tax has doubled meaning that there is a 50 cent tariff on every bale of briquettes produced. On top of that, the import of unregulated fuel products from Northern Ireland is a massive problem in the marketplace for Bord na Móna.
The current review by Bord na Móna of its peat operations is of fundamental and critical importance. Its recommendations will shape the future of peat production in Ireland. It will determine what quantities of briquette production will be required for the marketplace in the future. It will also determine the number of production facilities and recommend the location of the factory or factories. Its recommendations will have far-reaching implications and shuddering consequences. It has the potential to destroy livelihoods and to consign workers and dependent families to financial hardship. The outcome of the report is capable of wreaking havoc on local communities. Therefore, the report is a very serious matter that must treated in a professional, responsible, fair and caring manner.
The Tánaiste must understand that this is a nerve-tingling time for the employees of Bord na Móna, whether they are in Tipperary, Offaly or another part of the midlands. The prospect of further rationalisation or consolidation has struck fear in the hearts and minds of employees. What is the Government’s position on the Bord na Móna efforts?
Frances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
As the Deputy well knows, Bord na Móna is a commercial State company and the management and operation of briquette factories is an operational matter for the company and not one in which the Government has any direct role or function. However, I recognise the points the Deputy has made on the concerns of the employees in both places at present. Bord na Móna is facing significant business challenges in the context of the deregulation of the electricity market and increasingly competitive and challenging environments across all its business areas, not least its fuels business. It has been operating at a level significantly below capacity in recent times and there are a number of initiatives under way at present.
A comprehensive review is being undertaken at present on the operations at Littleton in County Tipperary and Derrinlough in County Offaly. The review will examine projected demand for peat briquettes as well as the plans for biomass and the combined capacity and infrastructure needed to deliver production to meet the forecasted demand. A serious analysis is being carried out at present on the production capacity and the demand and how they can be matched. As it requires much input from a number of people, the review is not expected to be finalised before May at the earliest. We will await the review and its analysis.
In the meantime, Bord na Móna has been working with and briefing staff and employees in the fuels business have been briefed on the review. I assure the Deputy that I understand that ongoing updates will be provided to them. Management has also provided assurances that no decision on the future of the plants will be taken until the review is completed. At the very least, we must await the outcome of the review in May. No one at this point can predict the recommendations that will be in the review, but there are a number of initiatives taking place which it is hoped will give the best outcome for the jobs about which the Deputy speaks. For example, there is a pilot trial for the production and sale of a biomass briquette made at its factory at Littleton for the past 12 months. The development of a biomass briquette is a significant investment by Bord na Móna Fuels and a critical step in future proofing the jobs the Deputy is highlighting and meeting the particular challenges faced by the company at present. However, the company is investing in research to see how it can best meet those challenges ahead.
Michael Lowry (Tipperary, Independent)
It is important to realise that the Government has a responsibility to oversee the policies of Bord na Móna and how they impact on employment. I presume there is a process involved here. As the Tánaiste indicated, the report will be published in May. I presume it will go to the board of Bord na Móna before being submitted to the joint committee with responsibility for energy and natural resources, the Minister and the Government. The future plans and ambition of Bord na Móna must not be curtailed by financial necessity. The Government must encourage and support the company by making available the substantial funds required to invest in upgrading existing plants such as Littleton and providing the €35 million required to install and commission a combined heat and power plant at the Littleton site. The trial at Littleton has been highly successful and made substantial progress. I hope its conclusions will show we can manufacture a biomass peat product and that this product, combined with investment in the combined heat and power plant, will secure the site’s future. I ask that the Minister take this into account in his discussions with Bord na Móna.
Frances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
I will ask the Minister to liaise directly with Deputy Lowry on this issue. It is planned to run further biomass production trials alongside peat briquette production in the next few months, with a view to completing a detailed business case for this product. The business case will consider the location for the commercial scale biomass plant. If or when this product is developed, it will offer an opportunity to provide sustainable, long-term, quality jobs in the fuels and feedstock divisions of Bord na Móna. As the Deputy noted, there is still some way to go and we await the review at the end of May and the results of the pilot projects which are assessing the viability of the product and how it could be developed. At that point, there will no doubt be committee hearings on the report. We await with interest the outcome in May.
In Dáil Éireann during Leaders’ Questions on Thursday, 8th December, I raised the issues of Homelessness with Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney. With many families and individuals living only one crisis away from homelessness this is an issue which affects all areas of our society.
Those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are some of the most exposed and vulnerable members of our society. We need to act decisiveness and with urgency to tackle the ‘perfect storm’ that has arisen and which is leading to a catastrophic increase in the incidence of homelessness.
Full Transcript of Deputy Michael Lowry Question to Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney T.D. Thursday, 8 December 2016 on Homelessness and Housing
Michael Lowry T.D. (Tipperary, Independent)
I afford the Minister the opportunity to give his own assessment of progress made in the housing of homeless people and the supply of housing. He will be aware that Focus Ireland recently estimated that 20 families each month were becoming homeless. Owing to the current housing crisis, it is estimated that approximately 40 children every month are losing their homes. This is on top of the 2,500 children and 4,377 adults already officially recorded as homeless in October 2016.
Since 2010 it has become apparent that there has been a drastic increase in persons accessing homeless services. This is not just in the cities and towns where it gets attention; it is a problem across the State. For example, in County Tipperary a total of 25 persons presented as homeless in 2010.That figure has increased dramatically to 426 persons in 2015 and to more than 500 in 2016. Like other parts of the State, County Tipperary is facing a serious housing crisis. The lack of affordable rented accommodation, the lack of social housing, unemployment, unrealistic rent allowance limits, unsustainable mortgage payments and evictions from owner occupied and buy-to-let properties have created a situation where the frequency of individuals and families becoming homeless has accelerated drastically, resulting in homeless services becoming completely overwhelmed.
Many families and individuals are living only one crisis away from homelessness. Homelessness is a problem that affects all areas of our society. Across County Tipperary homelessness is on the increase, especially hidden homelessness, where people are forced to sleep in cars, pitch a tent or sleep on the couches of relatives and friends. My constituency office has seen a notable increase in the number of calls relating to homelessness or from families in fear of homelessness. Many of these people are on the county council housing list. They are being asked to leave their current accommodation due to repossession or they are being asked to leave because a buy-to-let property is getting repossessed by a financial institution or because their landlord has decided to sell the property. These people simply cannot source an affordable alternative and are living in limbo, fearing homelessness.
The introduction of schemes such as the housing assistance payment scheme, HAP, was designed to provide assistance to people currently on the social housing list to rent from the private sector. While the HAP scheme will pay a proportion of a person’s rent in private rented accommodation the scheme just is not working. Private rented accommodation is extremely limited in supply. Yesterday I checked the Daft.ie website and there were only 70 properties available to privately rent across County Tipperary for people in that situation. Those properties that are available range in price from €480 for a one bedroom apartment in Carrick-On-Suir to more than €900 for a three bedroom family home in Thurles. Yesterday, in Clonmel, there were three such properties available when the council checked. People cannot access the HAP scheme.
Minister Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
There are a lot of comments and questions there. I first want to give a little bit of good news. We have a lot of work still to do to respond comprehensively to the homeless crisis we face in this city and in other parts of the State. Today we have the November figures on homelessness in Dublin and for the first time in a very long time the number of adults and families who are homeless in Dublin has actually reduced, month on month. That is not to say that we do not still have a mountain to climb – we do. We still have far too many people without a home to go to or a bed to sleep in. Yesterday the Taoiseach and I visited a new homeless shelter that will open tomorrow. Three of these will be ready to open tomorrow providing 210 new beds for emergency accommodation in Dublin, to make sure that everybody who needs a bed will get one this winter. When we look at the numbers, we have provided more than 17,000 new social housing solutions this year. This is a record. There will be 2,700 housing solutions put in place for homeless individuals and families this year. That is 500 more than has ever been achieved before. The previous record was last year when the former Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly was very focused on this area.
There is a lot that we are doing. In the budget we increased the budget for housing by 50% for 2017, an increase from some €800 million to nearly €1.3 billion. I believe we have outstripped all of the targets set for 2016 in actually trying to get people in to sustainable homes. With regard to the homeless HAP scheme in Dublin, the target for this year was 550 people. We will have probably hit the figure of 800 solutions there.
I fully accept that homelessness needs to be a big priority in finance and policy direction and we need to take radical decisions if necessary to try to prevent the stream of people and families coming in to homelessness.
Next week I will bring to Cabinet a new rental strategy which I hope we will have a chance to debate in the House afterwards. Many of the parties in the House contributed to the consultation process to get this right and I thank them for it.
There is a lot happening but there is still a lot more to do. I want to say to the House very clearly that from my perspective this is my number one priority as Minister. If the State cannot look after people who literally do not have a roof over their heads we have to ask ourselves some very serious questions. This is why in our homeless and housing strategy the first chapter, or pillar, focuses on homelessness and the need for a comprehensive response, whereby Ministers, such as Deputies Zappone, Harris and Varadkar, work in partnership with me to ensure we have a whole-of-Government approach towards not only helping people make the transition from homelessness into a stable home, but also to try to help them get over what are often mental health, addiction or family breakdown issues to ensure a permanent success story for them.
Michael Lowry T.D. (Tipperary, Independent)
I thank the Minister for his response and I do not doubt his sincerity and genuine commitment to resolving an issue which is at crisis point and has been steadily building over a period of seven to eight years. Local authorities need to be more involved. Some local authorities are performing and operating to the strategy, but others are not delivering. Housing voids, which are those which are vacant and need refurbishment, need to be made available for new tenants but it is simply too slow. The system is too cumbersome and the reaction time of local authorities is too slow.
It does not make sense. We have 3,000 qualified applicants on the housing list in Tipperary. We built four houses in the past two years, and I am told there is a huge backlog in the Department. Responsibility to proceed with the work should be delegated to local authorities. At present we have five different stages. Local authorities must apply to the Department for an appraisal to be carried out on the requirement for housing. They must then go through a design process and a tendering process. It takes years and not months to get it through the Department. It would greatly assist if responsibility was delegated to the local authorities. Let them make their own decisions. Let them apply procurement laws and let the Department assign somebody to do an assessment of them.
Minister Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
I take the point in terms of streamlined decision-making and in some cases it may well still be a barrier. Yesterday, I approved €18 million for 56 houses to be built as part of the redevelopment of O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin. This year we will see 4,240 new units in terms of new builds, acquisitions and voids coming back into the system. Do not forget that last year the number of houses built by local authorities in the entire country was 75. We are dramatically ramping up the capacity of local authorities to deliver on social housing build programmes as well as getting voids back into use.
The Deputy is right to stay in the past the decision-making process between the Department and local authorities was not fast enough. There was an eight stage process. When Deputy Kelly was Minister he changed it to a four stage process. I am streamlining this even further to ensure we send teams of people to local authorities to get sign-off in a matter of days on decisions which in the past may have taken months. The Deputy will see significant changes in urgency and the pace of decision-making between the Department and local authorities if he looks at individual projects and the decision-making around them. If this is not happening and the Deputy knows this and has cases where it is not happening, I need to hear about them.
Tipperary Hurling Star Eoin Kelly Launches Deputy Michael Lowry Election Campaign 2016
Speaking at the launch of his forthcoming 2016 general election campaign last Friday night, Michael Lowry T.D. spoke extensively on the need to progress rural Ireland forward to reflect the recovery being experienced in more easterly urban areas.
The event launched by Eoin Kelly, was without doubt one of the most successful political campaigns ever witnessed in County Tipperary. The event, which took place in the Anner Hotel, Thurles saw the venue swamped to capacity, with supporters travelling dangerous icy roads, from north and south of the County. Two large television screens were conveniently placed in the hotels foyer and main bar area. Both assets allowed for late comers, many who were unable to enter the main ballroom area, to watch proceeding live.
Deputy Lowry’s previous efforts in the retention of South Tipperary General Hospital and his recent prominence in the need to retain the Rural Practice Allowance Scheme for GP’s had not gone unnoticed. Support for his efforts saw people travel from Clonmel, Ballylooby, Bansha, Cahir, Ballyporreen, Carrick-on- Suir, and Cashel. His work rate was acknowledged also by his constituent members who flocked from the towns and villages of Upperchurch, Kilcommon, Nenagh, Silvermines, Roscrea and Templemore, to name but a few.
A number of guest speakers addressed over 600 supporters, discussing issues of current importance in relating to communities throughout the County. The topics discussed related to Education, Crime, Agriculture, Food Production, Sport, Special Education, Health, Youth Affairs and the Elderly. From the floor of the venue came discussions from varying sports personnel, members of the farming communities and small businesses pledging their thanks and support.
At the event, Deputy Lowry praised the magnificent efforts of numerous voluntary bodies throughout the county. He acknowledged the many excellent resources available today in the villages and towns of the county, but stated that rural Tipperary now felt neglected by the present decision makers.
Michael Lowry T.D. demands clarity from C&C on reports that it is to close down its plant in Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary with the loss of up to 140 jobs
Michael Lowry T.D. demands clarity from C&C on reports that it is to close down its plant in Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary with the loss of up to 140 jobs.
Lowry critical of C&C’s conduct
The Deputy, addressing the media, has described the present situation as utterly shocking and disrespectful to the Borrisoleigh work force. Since the takeover of Gleesons by C&C, I have been sceptical and suspicious of their motivations. From the onset there has been great difficulty with C&C to outline any business plan for the Borrisoleigh plant.
“Since the change of ownership, C&C have been reluctant to hold any meaningful engagement with employees and to communicate future plans for the Borrisoleigh site. After much aggravation they eventually agreed to recognise the Union SIPTU, but even then the company information was sparse”, said Lowry
The plant in Borrisoleigh was gradually diluted through the reduction of manufacturing jobs by voluntary redundancies and by the diversion of sales and administration to Belfast in Northern Ireland. The centralizing of management to the UK office saw the closing of their logistics office with this function outsourced to the private sector and the long destabilised practice of local management of plant, discontinued.
Deputy Lowry stated “Effectively what we are witnessing here is closure by stealth. The failure of the company to properly communicate with staff is deplorable. C&C have been disingenuous with regard to their real intentions regarding the Borrisoleigh site. Their method of doing business, their conduct and overall behaviour is nothing short of despicable.
“The Gleeson plant is synonymous with the village of Borrisoleigh and its people for generations have been the heartbeat of this local economy. This action by C&C will have a devastating impact on the workers and their families and the entire community.
“It is ironic that the company has been working 3 shifts to meet demand and that the plant has made substantial profits during its 2015 operations. C&C are a publically listed company, driven by shareholder demands. The human costs of this heartless decision are not regarded as a deciding factor. It would appear, ‘nothing must be allowed get in the way of profits’.
“I wish to convey my complete support with all employees affected by this sudden announcement and respectfully request that C&C now enter into meaningful negotiations with staff, management and Union representatives in an effort to resolve these matters” concluded Michael Lowry T.D.
Failure to install new CT scanner at South Tipperary General Hospital is causing unnecessary inconvenience to seriously ill patients
Deputy Lowry Highlights CT Scanner Issues at South Tipperary General Hospital
A current CT scanner which is over 16 years old and presently installed at South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel has malfunctioned yet again. The immediate consequence of this equipment failure is that Tipperary patients are being transported to other hospitals in the region, to undergo urgent and necessary CT Scans.
“The absurdity of this issue, which I highlighted today, becomes even more ludicrous when we discover that there already exists a brand new CT scanner still packed in its box, waiting to be installed at the South Tipperary facility for almost 3 years. While it is understood that works are underway to install this new scanner I have been informed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) that it will be towards the end of 2016 before same is available for patients use.
As a result of the old CT scanner breaking down yet again, Hospital staffs are now obliged to transport urgent patients to facilities believed to include Waterford (52 min or 47.1km or 30 mls) and Limerick (1h-24 min or 82.6km or 51mls) depending on availability, for necessary CT Scans.
This incompetent state of affairs is causing unnecessary inconvenience to seriously ill patients, c the ambulance service and an overworked hospital staff, while also costing an already underfunded HSE unnecessary extra expense” concluded Michael Lowry T.D.
Deputy Michael Lowry welcomes the inclusion of the Rural Practice Allowance for the GP vacancy in Bansha.
As predicted for the past week the HSE have finally announced that the Rural Practice Financial Incentive Support package has been agreed in respect of the GP vacancy in Bansha. This package will allow for the position to be re-advertised and I am confident it will now attract a number of applications. The Action Committee lead by Andrew O’Halloran and the local community are to be complimented on taking the incentive to highlighting the issue. Through their resilience and determination they have succeeded in receiving a positive outcome. The Action Committee will meet with next week with officials from the HSE to discuss the implementation of the welcomed decision.
Tipperary Battle of the Bands 2015
Start your Christmas with an incredible night of live music
Haven, Minus One, Small Fish, Strings and Things and The Drive, will be battling it out for the winning prize of a 3-day professional recording opportunity and support slot performance in The Academy, Dublin. Our MC for the night’s event is the well-known model, DJ and TV3 Xposé presenter Michelle Doherty.
The Tipperary Battle of the Bands will be held in the ICON nightclub and the first band will take to the stage at 9pm, with drink promotions and music ‘til late. People attending the competition have the opportunity to win a variety of concert tickets as well as supporting their favourite bands by voting for them on the night. Cost at the door will be €10.
This will be the ultimate night of live music over the Christmas Season.
Why not follow the Finalists on Facebook:
For further information please contact:
Rachel Willoughby Communication Consultant at 086 8106690 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sinead Gleeson Production Manager at 087 7042884 or email@example.com
CALLING ALL BANDS! WE WANT YOU! Tipperary Battle of the Bands 2015/2016
On Monday, 21st December 2015, the ultimate Tipperary Battle of the Bands will commence in
Hayes Hotel, Thurles Co. Tipperary.
Being 25 years since Ireland’s ground-breaking music festival ‘The Trip to Tipp’, Michael Lowry T.D. has once again joined forces to launch the ultimate Tipperary Battle of the Band competition . Aimed at supporting and promoting local talent, this initiative will be the biggest Battle of the Bands contest in the county to showcase up-and-coming Tipperary talent.
The winning band will receive a 3-day professional recording opportunity, a support slot performance in The Academy and runner-up prizes will include valuable instrument vouchers. People attending the competition have the opportunity to win a huge selection of concert tickets as well as supporting their favourite band by voting for them on the night.
Entries are NOW OPEN for Tipperary Battle of the Bands and the closing date for applicants is Wednesday, 9th of December at 5pm. Apply now: ENTRY FORM
As part of entry requirements, all members of the band must be aged 18 or over. At least 2 members of each band must be from County Tipperary and the band must submit a performance of 1 original song and 1 cover song. Entries will be narrowed down by an independent judging panel of music experts.
For further information please contact
Rachel Willoughby-Communication Consultant at (086) 810 6690 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sinead Gleeson-Production Manager at (087) 704 2884 or email@example.com
Apply now: ENTRY FORM
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Lowry demands better HSE viability for GP care Rural Ireland health care under attack
Deputy Michael Lowry has called for immediate action in relation to the current Bansha GP crisis. With the current General Practitioner retiring, the position to fill this post has been advertised; however, with the closing date for applications fast approaching, no interest in securing this position has, as yet, been registered.
“In the past a ‘Rural Practice Allowance’, was paid to assist Doctors with essential operating costs. This allowance is no longer being offered to replacement physicians. The withdrawal of this ‘Rural Practice Allowance’ to such areas automatically deprives patients the right to attract doctors into rural communities; making GP practices no longer viable.
Medical General Practices are dying nationally but in particular the area of County Tipperary. Post after post in the Irish countryside are falling vacant, with no incentive to attract health professionals, many of whom have left this country in favour of superior opportunities abroad.
This most recent issue further highlights the challenges that rural dwellers face on a day-to-day bases. The village of Bansha and its surrounding areas is yet another example of how rural Ireland is constantly under attack. In recent months, Bansha has lost most of its transport services involving the transfer of very ill individuals to hospitals for treatment or appointments. Having lost the services of their local post office, they now also face the genuine possibility that they will lose the most basic of human rights; that of any local health care.
Bansha’s heath care centre currently provides professional quality service to the local community, together with parts of Cahir, Golden and the Glen of Aherlow. Presently between Medical Card holders & private patients, the local area takes care of over 2,000 individuals. With free GP care being rolled out nationally for under 6’s and over 70’s, it is ludicrous to think that those now eligible will find themselves in acute emergency cases where no doctor will be found in the village of Bansha.
I have been in contact with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and have requested that they immediately make a fully focused and determined effort to viably attract a GP to fill this rural position” concluded Michael Lowry.
The refusal by the Health Service Executive to approve services at Scoil Aonghusa Cashel is causing unwarranted hardship and inconvenience.
The refusal by the Health Service Executive to approve services at Scoil Aonghusa Cashel is causing unwarranted hardship and inconvenience.
The experience of parents and their teachers regarding children with special educational needs over the lifetime of this government has become a national disgrace. Continuous muddled government policies over how to provide for such children, together with the shortage of resources and the non-availability of facilities, consign many to what can only be described as ‘bureaucratic purgatory’.
These problems are further exacerbated by parents being forced to lurch from crisis to crisis trying to ensure that their children receive a basic education appropriate to their needs, while also endeavouring to locate a continuous and safe environment. All too often, parents with children of special needs, spend a large proportion of their earnings, not to mention months of precious time, to find that there are insufficient services or they have to wait weeks, months, even years before they can get therapy and support for their child.
Last Monday night, I attended a meeting in ‘Scoil Aonghusa’ school in Cashel. This co-educational school which facilitates 85 individuals with multiple physical, emotional and other learning difficulties. These pupils need immediate specialist services and are receiving very little support or funding from the Health Service Executive. I am aware that this is a national issue but similarly, another school ‘Scoil Cormaic’ based too in Cashel who assist to 223 children and young adults also see the constant reoccurrence of minimal services being provided.
The introduction of the Progressive Disability Services for Children and Young Children established by the Health Service Executive to change the way services are provided, is a haphazard, unpredictable, ‘billy- to- jack’, delivery of service and therapy. This project is not going to alleviate any problem. We need services delivered consistently and cohesively and in collaboration with parents and teachers. We need to start listening to parents and teachers who care for these children every day. Both are acutely aware of what needs to be undertaken and how efficient delivery of such services can be fully achieved.
Children with special needs should have access to all the specialist therapy and supports they require not out of luxury, but out of necessity. Lack of funding for services is the current governments daily recited turn of phrase that parents and teachers hear repeatedly, but shouldn’t we find that funding, and shouldn’t funding for children with special needs be a first priority? We need to ensure that everything is in place for them to be enabled to reach their full potential. Instead, without funding and adequate numbers of therapists the government is guilty of preventing these children from reaching their potential, when life has already put enough obstacles in their way.
Yes, we have moved on in terms of assessing and diagnosing children, but support and services for children with special needs has not. Children with special needs are still not receiving the support they need and deserve, in this country. What good is an assessment or a diagnosis, without follow up therapy and support from specialists? It just gives parents and teachers a keyword to research on ‘Google’.
It is evident that this continued chaos of care and services is not at fault with psychologists or therapists, their caseloads are simply too big to meet the needs of so many children. In the absence of services, our teachers are to be applauded for the incredible work they are undertaking to meet the requirements of these children and the after school support they are also providing to parents.
In our last budget we heard that there are more resource and learning support teaching positions being sanctioned. It is obvious that these posts are vital and should continue to increase, however what you don’t hear and what these announcements hide is the fighting, pleading and justification that schools and parents have to make to get these posts. What you don’t hear is how overwhelmed teachers and parents are, to meet the needs of children when there are little or no therapists or services. We need more specialist therapists and psychologists and we need them available to schools, to parents and ultimately to the children with additional needs who deserve them. We need this as a matter of priority.