Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has assured the Minister for Education that schools under his patronage will meet “urgent provision” for units for autistic students, following a Government letter.
Former Minister Joe McHugh sent a letter instructing 36 Catholic schools on the southside of the city to open special classes this September for students with autism.
Archbishop Martin affirmed the schools’ commitment to providing these resources, according to a statement from Dublin Archdiocese.
Dr Martin reminded former Minister McHugh of comments he made “in which he acknowledged the ‘pivotal role’ played by the officials of the archdiocese in ensuring that extra places were found in a similar situation in Dublin 15 last year.
“The minister referred to the fact that having a spirit of co-operation on the ground from management authorities is critical,” the statement continues.
The archbishop has committed to giving the same level of co-operation as before, but noted his frustration that the Government only sent the letter on the final day of the school year.
“Despite a process of consultation that had taken place over some months,” Archbishop Martin said, “the Government communication was dispatched only on the day the school year closed, hardly facilitating cooperation with the management authorities.
Archbishop Martin “called for constructive cooperation so that the urgent requirements of children with special education needs and their families become a crucial priority on all sides.”
He also stressed that autism units should have all necessary services to meet their requirements from the Department of Education and in particular their required supports from the Department of Health.
The letters were sent on foot of advice from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which told the minister that while progress had been made in meeting the need of children in south Dublin there was still ”insufficient special class capacity”.