'Hypocrite' Martin forced to abandon protest
OUTRAGED parents and teachers have called on the Government to "stop pandering to the whim of bankers and the IMF" as over 600 protesters gathered outside the Dail to highlight ongoing cuts in education for children with special needs.
Fianna Fail TD Micheal Martin was forced to abandon plans to attend the protest when he was accosted in the street by a protester who accused him of "acute hypocrisy".
Greg Kerr, a teacher in inner city Dublin, accused the former education minister of being "one of the architects" of the country's economic collapse, and told him he was not welcome to attend the event.
The demonstration outside Leinster House was part of a series of protests organised in cities and towns across the country.
Up to 100 people also gathered at a rally in Eyre Square in Galway for the event, including representatives from Down Syndrome Ireland and the Autism Ireland Partnership.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has come under fire over the shortage of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) in schools.
While protesters welcomed the minister's announcement to reverse the cut in the number of resource teaching hours, they said any reduction in the number of SNAs was "wholly unacceptable".
The number of SNAs has not changed, remaining at 10,575, in spite of 2,000 additional children requiring special needs cover from September.
Down Syndrome sufferer Lily Mullen (15), from Kilcolgan, held up a poster which read 'Support me now so I can support myself soon'.
In Dublin protesters said their children would not be able to cope in a mainstream classroom and their only option would be to try to educate their child at home or to travel long distances to a special school.
Mr Quinn said €1.3bn would be spent in support of children with special needs assistance this year.