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Lowry – “New Proposals Could See Major Cuts To Special Education”

“Closure of special schools; special classes and cuts in SNA allocations will hurt pupils of all abilities, especially those with complex needs”. – Michael Lowry TD. (Election Launch, Friday January 24th, 2020).

There are 516 candidates running for just 159 seats, in 39 constituencies, in this upcoming Irish General Election.

Yet, to date, only a few outgoing TD’s appear to be aware of disastrous new policies for special education proposed by the National Council for Special Education.

Last night, at a packed election launch by Tipperary Independent TD Mr. Michael Lowry, some startling facts were publicly highlighted by Ms Lorraine Lowry (Principal of Scoil Chormaic, Cashel); same facts which Deputy Lowry stated he will strenuously oppose.

Ms Lorraine Lowry explained in detail to the large assembled gathering, what we the public, can expect with regard to the future of special education in Ireland, if the National Council for Special Education get their way.

New ideas suggesting the future of special education in Ireland have been detailed in a recent National Council for Special Education (NCSE) progress report.

Firstly Note: The NCSE were set up in 2003, by the then Minister for Education and Science. Their purpose; to ‘improve the delivery of Education Services to persons with special educational needs’.
Their recent progress report and the new model for special education, that they suggest should be put in place, have many in the field of education questioning whether or not it is the Department of Finance that is actively involving itself in prescribing our Education system, rather than those charged to do so within the National Council for Special Education itself.
Read what the NCSE are promising our children at the following link: – https://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/NCSE-An-Inclusive-Education-A5-Proof-07WEB.pdf

Plans are afoot to close Irish Special Schools and Special Needs Classes.

The new ideas proposed by the NCSE, include the complete closure of (A) Special classes, (B) Special schools and (C) a reduction in Special Needs Assistants (SNA’s) as part of the introduction to Ireland of ‘The New Brunswick Model’.

The ‘New Brunswick Model’ comes from Canada and as part of their system, there are no special schools or classes for pupils with special needs. The NCSE argue that the ‘New Brunswick Model’ is superior, with students getting access to therapists and psychologists in their schools and teachers getting more training and support from outside agencies.

Those directly responsible in the day to day running of schools, however, argue that the ‘New Brunswick Model’ would be a total disaster if introduced. As it stands, children with special needs sit on waiting lists for months if not years for access to therapies and assessments. It is worth noting that as highlighted in a recent Irish Times article, the Premier of New Brunswick Blaine Higgs, has also called the educational system in New Brunswick ‘a disaster’.
See link: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/is-ireland-ready-for-a-total-inclusion-approach-for-special-education-1.4109360

Read also attached CBC link : Inclusion model a ‘race to the bottom,’ says policy expert

Plans to cut SNA jobs.
The government cannot justify taking away SNA’s, special schools and special classes until it addresses the lack of therapists and services available to schools and pupils with special needs. The reduction in SNA’s will come through a new ‘front-loaded model’ of SNA allocation, already expected to begin in September 2020.

The government will use a profiling system, involving ‘algorithms’ and ‘statistics’ to estimate what a school should get.
If introduced, this will spell disaster for all schools and in particular small schools and the rural and minority populations they represent.

Regrettably, a profiling system has already been introduced for the allocation of special education teaching hours and pupils and schools are not benefiting; with small schools among the worst affected. Why can’t the government allocate resources and SNA’s based on actual need, rather than algorithms and statistics? Are educational decisions being totally motivated by budget constriction?

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

The government will try to convince you that since 2011 they have increased investment in ‘Special Education’. That is technically true, but what the government neglects to mention is that from 2008 to 2010, during the recession, there were shameful cuts in funding for special education.

Our children need better – stop covering up our budget limitations.

Our educational system is not perfect, but what we have we understand and up until now they were attempting to move in the right direction. Ireland is known internationally for its high-quality educationalists and its traditions around family and local community. Parents and teachers work closely together here in Tipperary and other counties, in order to supplement the lack of educational funding. Go down to Dunnes Stores here in Thurles Shopping Centre any weekend and you will most likely see parents and teachers fundraising together, ‘bag packing’ for their schools and their children. We all know that money is not there for everything, but stop covering this fact up with ‘algorithms’ for estimates, new idiotic ‘models’ and other ‘ideology’. Let us talk about reality and let us talk directly to parents and teachers and grant our children and our schools, what they actually need.

Talk to your local TD’s – the very few who are truly listening.

Ahead of this 2020 General Election start talking to your public representatives. Awaken them to the knowledge regarding these cuts and inform them that we the electorate will not be fooled by ‘models’ and ‘algorithms’. Ask them why they are supporting the cutting of funding to special education; closing special schools; special classes and cutting SNA jobs? Ask them what they intend to do to stop this threatened outrage?

We are aware from Michael Lowry’s election launch last night, that we can expect his support and strong voice, loudly opposing any such cuts, as he consistently listens to what his constituents, on the ground, are stating.


Moyne “Lisheen Lands” Portfolio Goes On Sale.

Lisheen Mine, Moyne, Co Tipperary

Investors and those wishing to acquire certain residential dwellings are expected to show interest in the sale of a large land holding of some 800 acres, latter located in the area of Moyne, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

This portfolio known as “Lisheen Lands” comprises a mix of industrial and agricultural land, and comes with the benefit of not only significant income through renewable energy, but also agricultural enterprises including outbuildings and residential dwellings.

The Lisheen Mine near Moyne ceased its operations back in 2015 and the property has since been returned to a brownfield industrial site.

The entire portfolio is now being placed on the market initially in one single lot by Dublin estate agents Knight Frank, at a guide price of an expected €11 million Euros.

These lands are officially designated as the National Bioeconomy Campus where renewable biological resources from land and sea are being used to produce energy, food and materials.

Here the area has been awarded “Modern Demonstrator Region” status by the European Commission, making it one of only six such regions within the EU to be granted this status.


Clonmel 40 Bed Modular Unit Handed Over To South Tipperary Hospital

It took just 11 months; from the arrival of builders on site to the point where the finished 40 bed Medical Modular unit at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, was officially handed over on January 16th, 2020.

The now completed project cost approximately €20m, with construction costs coming in at almost €10m.

“The reality is that seeing is believing”, commented Prof. Mr Peter Murchan, (Consultant General Surgeon) at South Tipperary General Hospital, as he proudly led a tour of this new 40 bed facility within the hospital on Monday last.

Acknowledging that many had stated publicly that the project could not be achieved, Professor Murchan was quick to emphasise that this new state-of-the-art facility is due mostly to the ‘enormous hands-on commitment’ of Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry, latter who networked via the Departments of Health & Finance, to push this particular project forward to full and total fulfilment.


New Solar Power Plants Planned For Tipperary

Two companies, Danish group Obton and Shannon Energy are planning to spend some €300 million; building plants that will generate electricity from solar panels here in Ireland.

Both companies confirmed last Wednesday that they had formed a joint venture to develop solar farms, latter which uses panels of specially manufactured cells, to convert heat from the sun into electricity.

The joint operation intends to spend some €300 million over the next three years on building these solar farms that would generate up to 500 megawatts of electricity, while creating an estimated 1,000 jobs in the process.

It is understood that the Danish company Obton would provide most of the finance, while Shannon Energy would provide local expertise and do much of the work on the ground.

This joint venture has already earmarked sites in counties Tipperary, Cork, Galway, Longford and Westmeath, where it is expected to install solar panels capable of producing 150 megawatts of electricity, supplying enough energy to cover the annual consumption of some 25,000 private homes.

The new group association remain in talks with farmers regarding the acquisition of other recognised sites here in Ireland, as they estimate that overall, they will require a minimum of 2,000 acres, if their plans are to be brought to fruition.


New Proposed Housing Development For Mitchel Street, Thurles

Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry has confirmed details of a new proposed housing development envisaged for Mitchel Street, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The proposed development would deliver 122 residential affordable houses, with an investment of some €34 million Euro.

The proposal is to deliver a new residential community with the proposed name for the scheme entitled “Brú na Manach”, [Translated from Irish to English “The Monks Palace”], in recognition of the fact that the lands are located to the north side of the Monk’s field.

Proposed Housing Development Site – “Brú na Manach

The residential housing mix proposed in this scheme can be summarised as follows: –
11 x 2 storey semi-detached 4 bed houses.
62 x 2 storey semi-detached 3 bed houses.
16 x 2 storey townhouses 2 bed houses.
12 x Duplex 2 bed ground floor homes.
12 x Duplex 3 bed townhouses.
9 x 2 storey semi-detached 4 bed houses.

The Promoter of this project is Liberty Square Consulting Ltd, part of the Castlestar Property Development Group; a developer well established and respected, holding excellent credentials. This group is currently building quality developments at affordable prices at several other locations around the country.

The design team have spent over 12 months engaged in detailed consultation with Tipperary Co. Council and Irish Water on this proposed scheme; carefully examining the previously granted planning applications for this site and have already amended their plans to address concerns already raised by local residents and business owners. Indeed, acoustic fencing has been proposed to address concerns previously raised.

The proposed scheme will not include any apartments, and will be accessed via Mitchell Street and Bohernamona Road.
Planning will include a new Childcare / Creche facility, and incorporate a new landscaped public park area.

Agreement has been reached in principle between the Developer; the Local Authority and Irish Water on infrastructure upgrades required to deal with local waste-water / sewerage collection networks, same resulting in the introduction of a new pump station and waste-water infrastructure on the site. This latter new system will have additional capacity and will be engineered to enable already existing houses on Bohernamona Road to be offered a connection to this mains sewerage / waste-water system.

Subject to full planning permission being granted, the developer intends to engage local contractors and tradesmen with a view to commencing construction of this housing scheme in September 2020.

Deputy Lowry stated, “At my request the developer has agreed to make available his full design team on Tuesday the 14th January, from 4:00pm8:00pm, at the Order of Malta Centre, Boheravoroon, Thurles Townparks, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Here full plans will be on display and the public will have an opportunity to raise queries, concerns or to make comments and suggestions.

The public can, if they so desire, make submissions directly online to An Board Pleanála on any matter regarding the planning application. This opportunity will remain open for 5 weeks.
I have also made arrangements for representatives of Mitchel Street, Residents Committee and Loughtagalla Park and Residents Association to meet with the developer to discuss issues of mutual interest”, the Deputy stated.

“This project is a significant investment in our town. It gives an opportunity to young families to buy a house at an affordable cost. Young families secure the future of our town, its schools, business, sport and voluntary organisations.
If constituents require further clarification, they may contact me or my office directly, Michael Lowry TD Constituency Office, Abbey Rd, Thurles
Tel: 0504 22022 or email
michael.lowry@oireachtas.ie, Mr Lowry concluded.