top of page

(Ireland) "Severe shortage" of autism places; 130 students waiting in Dublin alone

May 26, 2022, Independent: Plan for temporary education centres for children with special needs sparks concern

MINISTER of State with responsibility for special education Josepha Madigan has beaten a retreat over “Special Education Centres” after criticism from the autism group As I Am….

Junior minister Madigan tweeted the new education option for special needs children using the phrase – which immediately came in for criticism, since the children will be segregated from school pupils through education on the premises of ETBs (Educational Training Boards).

Last night she pointed out many children were being educated at home and were segregated anyway. “It was an idea we were exploring,” she said, since schools were not providing enough special classes to meet demand….

He added: “I particularly do not like the use of the term ‘autism centre’ because it sounds othering. It sounds like children are going to be bussed away to a special place set away from other children and the rest of society and put in some sort of special centre, and I do not like that either. …

Earlier today, Human Rights Commissioner Sinéad Gibney, autism campaigners and politicians had denounced a plan for emergency education centres for pupils with special needs who cannot get a school place.

There is a severe shortage of capacity for pupils with autism and other additional needs in some areas, particularly Dublin and Cork, with about 130 children in the capital alone still awaiting a place for September….
“The severe shortage of school places for these students is not new and not only Dublin specific.

“The State cannot just roll back the rights of these children to an inclusive education for the sake of convenience, particularly for children who rely on consistency and routine to anchor their educational needs.”…

"There is a huge level of anger among campaigners and parents.”

He said it was “clear that there needs to be some clarity from the department” ,which, he said, had committed to engage with stakeholders , with a further meeting planned for next week. “Nothing has been decided and there will be further discussions next week.

“What we need to focus on is finding a solution. This should not be about an emergency response, this is something that should be planned for and there needs to be a deep examination of how we find ourselves in this position,” he said. Ms Madigan tweeted that it was a supplementary measure to ensure that while children await a new special class placement in a mainstream school they can access a more sustained level of support in a setting with peers of their own age….

Junior minister

Josepha Madigan


bottom of page