Ó Ríordáin welcomes Seanad agreement on Labour SNA motion

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
13 December 2017

Labour spokesperson on Education, Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has welcomed agreement by the Seanad this afternoon of Labour’s motion to protect the employment rights of Special Needs Assistants, and recognise the vital role they play in our schools system.

Senator Ó Ríordáin commented:

“This is a really positive result from the Seanad today and shows there is an understanding that the vital role played by Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) in our schools system needs to be recognised.

“The support provided by the thousands of SNAs to some of the most vulnerable children in our classrooms is essential, and it is high time their contribution was reflected in their employment rights.

“Today’s motion calling for SNA allocations to be announced by May at the latest would help to reduce some of the uncertainty faced by SNAs late into the summer every year, over whether they will have a job to return to in September.

“It also highlights the value of joining a union, with the concerns of SNAs represented by IMPACT who voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over these issues earlier this year, recognised in today’s motion.

“While I was disappointed that there was only one Government speaker on this important debate today, I am encouraged by the support of our Opposition colleagues in the Seanad.

“We must now work to ensure this motion is turned into action by Government so SNAs receive the respect they deserve.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

LABOUR PRIVATE MEMBERS MOTION ON SNAS

That Seanad Eireann –

– recognises the vital role that Special Needs Assistants play in Ireland’s Education system, providing essential support for some of the most vulnerable students in our classrooms;

– acknowledges the overwhelming vote in October 2017 by over 8000 SNAs as members of IMPACT in favour of industrial action;

– regrets the failure of the Minister for Education to implement the recommendations of the Oireachtas Education Committee ‘Report on the Role of the Special Needs Assistant’ published in January 2016;

– condemns the July publication of SNA allocations in 2017, which caused enormous uncertainty for SNAs;

– demands that the Minister for Education and Skills guarantee that:
(i) in future, SNA allocations will be announced in sufficient time (no later than May) to allow the Supplementary Assignment Panel – and distribution of available hours to serving staff – operate to full effect;
(ii) arrangements will be put in place in respect of job security for SNAs;
(iii) an agreed procedure will be established for dealing with SNA grievances and issues.

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