HYPOCRITE! New TD Aodhan O Riordain Was Elected as Champion of Special Needs Education. but Last Night, He Voted through Swingeing Cuts
Byline: Aiden Corkery and Sandra Murphy
HE WON a Dail seat after pledging to fight against cuts which would affect the most vulnerable schoolchildren.
But last night former teacher, Deputy Aodhan O Riordain, was branded a hypocrite for supporting a plan to abolish more than 200 special needs posts.
The Labour TD was one of 103 deputies who backed the Government's decision to cut special needs assistants. Only 47 politicians voted against the move.
The cuts could set children with learning difficulties back several years, while many may have to be taken out of mainstream education.
Deputy O Riordain, who says he was inspired to enter politics by his students in Dublin's Sheriff Street, last night claimed the SNA system had 'absolutely failed'.
He told the Dail that schools in wealthy areas have been able to pay for psychological tests for their students to secure extra assistants. In contrast, disadvantaged schools have been forced to rely on the State-funded National Educational Psychological Service.
'Inevitably, what actually happens is that those resources are being applied to those schools which can effectively buy them, who will access the private assessments and those schools like my own which are totally dependent on NEPS and which didn't get the same resources,' he said.
As anger among parents mounted over the cutbacks, a woman who was in the public gallery during the debate threw a bottle of water against the glass barrier separating the visitors from TDs. She was escorted out by Dail ushers.
Earlier, hundreds of parents had protested outside Leinster House.
Last night, a woman whose child attends a school in the deputy's constituency accused him of cynically playing to the electorate for votes.
Claire Malone, whose seven-yearold daughter, Kirsty, suffers from Asperger's syndrome and dyspraxia, said: 'I voted Labour on the basis that there would be no SNA cuts.
That's what Mr O Riordain told us before the election.
'That was one of his pledges. I know he visited the school after the election too. Now, I am so, so angry.'
Mrs Malone is very concerned for Kirsty's future after her full-time SNA at St Monica's Junior School had her hours cut to 16 a week.
'Her condition means that she trips and falls a lot. …