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Senator Bacik speaking on Irish Life & Permanent and Support for Special Needs

11 February 2009

Order of Business

Senator Ivana Bacik: Other Senators have rightly expressed shock and dismay at the news of the appalling practices between Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Life & Permanent. Who knows, as Senator Ross said, what other banks are engaged in the practice of propping up each other? It begs the question, if the banks are busy bailing each other out, why on earth are we, as taxpayers, bailing them out? Could it be that the bailing out has been going on for a long number of years among the banks and we did not know about it? Our bail out was carried out in good faith - I voted against it but clearly a majority voted in favour of it - but we were unaware of the mutual bailing out going on between the banks at the time. We need another debate on the issue.

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business calling on the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, to come to the House and tell us what on earth is going on with the cutbacks for the education of children with special needs.

I am reminded of the phrase which got a British governmental adviser into such trouble some years ago. It seems like today is a good day to bury bad news, given the major headlines on the loans between Irish Life & Permanent and Anglo Irish Bank. Clearly other bad news might well be buried on a day like today and this is why we need the Minister to come to the House and tell Members why he is cutting back on education for children with special needs and ending jobs for their teachers at a time when we need more jobs and unemployment is rising. As Senators O'Toole and Fitzgerald have said we will pay in the future for inadequate education for children with special needs.

I remind the House that last night during the debate on education the Minister said, “The Government is committed to providing targeted support for special needs and has allocated additional funding of €20 million for 2009 to continue to enhance front-line services for these children”, that is, for children with special needs. How dare the Minister come to the House last night and tell us that, and then announce this morning that he will cut education for children with special needs. We need to have him in the House. I propose an amendment to the Order of Business and have the Minister come in for half an hour simply to tell Members what on earth he is doing.

We can put to him the reasons why he should reverse this appalling decision.