Government failing to prioritise disability services for children

29 May 2024
  • An Taoiseach acknowledgement rings hollow

Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD today criticised the government for failing to address the critical delays in the assessment of needs for children with disabilities. Speaking at Leader’s Questions, Ó Ríordáin highlighted the unacceptable situation where nearly 15,000 children remain on waiting lists, exacerbating their challenges and impacting their development.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said,

“The Taoiseach’s acknowledgement of the problem is simply not enough. We need concrete steps and immediate action to resolve these delays. Families are struggling while waiting for essential assessments, and this inertia is inexcusable.

“Beyond assessments, there is a significant gap in support for young adults transitioning out of the education system. They are left without a roadmap, and the lack of resources for additional complex needs in schools is causing huge disquiet among parents and educators. We are seeing a chronic failure to ensure access to critical services like occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and psychological support.

“Nothing has been done to address the spiralling costs associated with disability. Families are burdened with expenses that the state should be mitigating. Furthermore, the absence of a new Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities is glaring. We need a robust plan to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities in the workforce.

“The government’s approach has been reactive rather than proactive. It’s time for them to reverse the removal of complex needs hours from schools. Every child deserves the right to education and support tailored to their needs, and we must guarantee that every child will have a place come September.

“We are calling on Government to take immediate, decisive action to address these failures. As Inclusion Ireland have said all policies should be rights-proofed and child-centred. The health and future of our children depend on it.”

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