Senator condemns Minister’s ‘reckless stunt’ involving Stoneybatter schoolPadraig Conlon 07 Jul 2022
Dublin-based Labour Senator Marie Sherlock says she has called on Minister for Education Norma Foley and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan, to issue an apology to St Gabriel’s primary school for ‘the slur cast by Minister Madigan in her reckless comments’ targeting the school almost two weeks ago.
“On Wednesday morning I listened to Minister Foley on RTÉ radio talk about the need for transparency for families with regard to additional need provision in schools,” Senator Sherlock said.
“The reality is that the Department has acted in bad faith and its actions have worked to potentially damage the school.
“Despite months of engagement between the school and the architects engaged by the Department of Education about the renovations necessary to open an ASD unit in September, the Department decided to email the school patron the Archbishop of Dublin at 7:30pm on a Friday evening in June to warn the school would be named and shamed.
“The Department didn’t even bother to directly contact the school but cc’d them in an email and while the school responded immediately and continued to fully engage with the Department, none of that detail mattered when Minister Madigan pulled her stunt.”
Senator Sherlock also said she believes the Minister should ‘focus on her job of providing more special education places, rather than deflecting blame for her own failures onto the local school community.’
Responding in the Seanad to the Minister’s claims, Senator Sherlock said:
“Minister Josepha Madigan engaged in a reckless stunt by inaccurately attempting to portray St Gabriel’s National School in Stoneybatter as uncaring or disengaged regarding the provision of special education services.
“The Minister’s claim could not be further from the truth and should be withdrawn immediately.
“The hurt that the Minister’s words have caused to staff, parents and pupils of St Gabriel’s has been very damaging.
“The allegations are particularly unfair given the great record and reputation of St Gabriel’s in providing for children with additional needs.
“This September, St Gabriel’s will have eight class teachers, six support teachers and a special class for pupils with moderate difficulties that has been running since 2016.
“Throughout this year, the school has been working hard to put in place a new autism spectrum disorder (ASD) unit for September 2023 and has been working closely with the architects engaged by the Department of Education with regards renovating two classrooms.
“The September 2023 date was identified and agreed with the local Special Education Needs Officer.
“Minister Madigan must acknowledge she got it wrong and fully apologise to all the staff and school community at St Gabriel’s.”