Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon called on the Minister for Education to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions over the reopening of schools for children with additional needs and continue to seek a pathway to a solution with all stakeholders.

Deputy Gannon, who is the party’s spokesperson for Education, said:

“Much of the commentary over the past week has not been helpful. I take issue with the Minister saying today that she was on the side of parents of vulnerable children. That binary gives the impression that others among us are not, including those who are just seeking to be safe as they return to the workplace. This is far from the case and I am angry at the vilification of people in the education sector who devote every hour of their professional lives to ensure that the needs of these children are met.

“The SNA community have been the champions of our education sector. They have been undervalued for so long, with a starting salary of just over €24,000. Many do it as a vocation; the job is immensely tough and the remuneration is not commensurate with the responsibility. They are not the enemy here – far from it.

“All they are asking is that they can be safe and they want to be listened to. If the Minister listens, what she will hear is genuine fear and anxiety – but also a real willingness to go back to the workplace and provide care to these children.

“Finding a collaborative pathway to a solution must be the essence of what we do now.”

January 21, 2021

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