AN INDEPENDENT election candidate has defended her call for a discussion on whether some children with special needs should be microchipped.
Councillor Sharon Keogan, who is running for a Dáil seat in Meath East, said that “anything that will make our children safer warrants consideration” but denied she was advocating for some children to be microchipped with GPS trackers.
Ms Keoghan defended remarks made in a Facebook post last August in the aftermath of the death of Nora Quoirin, the 15-year-old girl who was found dead after 10 days missing in the Malaysian jungle while on a family holiday.
In the social media post, Ms Keogan wrote: “This was a tragic end for this family, but should children with special needs who have poor ability to communicate be microchipped with GPS? This has been asked of me by a parent of a teenager with no verbal skills! What do you think? Please discuss!”
Amid criticism of her comments, Ms Keogan sought to defend the post in an interview with Michael Reade on LMFM on Wednesday morning.
She said: “I basically have used my position to verbalise the distraught father who basically wanted the issue discussed in a public forum and use me as a vessel to do that and I am sorry if that has offended people.
"It certainly wasn’t my intention to ever ever set out to offend people.”
She said that there was now microchipping GPS labels that you can put onto the clothing, GPS watches for children and microchipping in mobile phones. “These are things that are already there,” she said.
She said she was approached by the father of a non-verbal adolescent at the time of the tragedy last year who was distraught over the Nora Quoirin’s death and wanted to find ways to protect his son.
“He basically asked me if I would discuss the issue in relation to GPS and some sort of a GPS system that would, if his child did ever happen to be on vacation and did go missing, that he would be able to find that child,” she said.
“He said: 'Can you discuss it and open the conversation on it'. I’ve always been a voice for those who are voiceless. I’ve always spoken up for those who may not have their voice or not capable of expressing what it is they want to express and I did that and you can see some of the comments on it.
“I didn’t make any comment on it whatsoever. I didn’t agree with it or disagree with it because I am not going to make a judgement on any parent who has a child that is non-verbal.”
Ms Keogan was elected to Meath County Council for two electoral areas in last year’s local elections - Laytown/Bettystown and Ashbourne - and recently claimed that it was “unfair” and “unjust” that she was not entitled to two State grants for female candidates.
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