Sunday 15 September 2019

What Taoiseach said, and when, about Holy Family School project

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's representations on behalf of Holy Family National School in Newport, Co Mayo:

• March 2011: the school's funding application for a new autism unit to replace an existing prefab is refused.

• May 23: the school's appeal, supported by the HSE and National Educational Psychological Service, is refused by the department which said the plans, while "desirable", were "not absolutely essential".

• June 1: Taoiseach Enda Kenny writes to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn: "I would be grateful if you could arrange to have this case reconsidered."

• September 5: the school principal writes to the Taoiseach: "We are still in an untenable situation."

She highlights the behavioural problems in the autism class and says "this is an issue around safeguarding our children".

• September 20: Mr Kenny writes to Mr Quinn: "I have now received the enclosed letter from the principal, Brid Chambers, which further explains their situation. I would be grateful if you could have this case considered."

• September 30: Mr Quinn writes to the Taoiseach refusing funding in light of "current competing demands". He says there is "no deficit of special needs' accommodation at the school".

• October 28: Mr Quinn writes to Mr Kenny again. He reiterates how there is "no deficit" in special needs accommodation in Holy Family.

However, he says that due to the "severe behavioural issues" there "may be a requirement for a withdrawal room".

• Mr Quinn says he has forwarded an application for 'rental of temporary accommodation' to the school which should reapply so its case can be assessed.

• November 2011: the school makes a fresh application for funding.

• January 2012: Minister of State Michael Ring writes to Mr Quinn, and the Taoiseach sends another letter in support of the school. Mr Quinn replies to both saying the application is being assessed.

• February 2012: the school's plans for a permanent autism unit with a sensory room and a withdrawal room are approved -- backed up by recommendations by the HSE, National Council for Special Education and National Education Welfare Board.

Irish Independent

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