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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.


Tipperary Woman, On Courageous Cancer Journey, Nominates Michael Lowry

In the midst of a hectic General Election campaign, sometimes heart-warming things can happen.

Such was the case for Michael Lowry on Monday of this week when a truly incredible lady came forward to offer to formally nominate him to contest the upcoming General Election.

Pictured L-R: Mrs Geraldine Callanan, Mr Michael Lowry TD, Mr Philip Kinane (Director of Elections), and Mr James Seymour (County Returns Officer).

This touching gesture came from Tipperary’s Geraldine Callanan, a woman that Michael Lowry describes as one of the most inspirational people he has ever met and a woman of amazing courage and strength.

Geraldine was diagnosed in 2017 with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes and lungs. This devastating diagnosis was made all the more poignant by the fact that Geraldine was only sixteen months married and had just welcomed her precious baby son Kevin into this world.

Geraldine’s story makes for heart-breaking reading. This vibrant young woman underwent the shock of discovering a breast lump while showering, the ordeal of endless tests and endless days and weeks of waiting for diagnostic results, the heartbreak and fear of being told she had cancer, the trauma her diagnosis brought to her husband and family and the knowledge that, what should have been the best time in her life, had turned into worst imaginable.

Geraldine began her treatment with a course of chemotherapy, which finished on her 31st birthday and resulted in some improvements. This was followed by ongoing treatment with a chemo tablet and, some months later, by a mastectomy and a five-week course of radiotherapy. After this extensive treatment, Geraldine was told she was cancer free, however she was also made aware that her condition was treatable but not curable and she knows she must be ready to fight again if or when it ever re-occurs.

Throughout her treatment Geraldine was keenly aware of the fact that the treatments she was receiving would not have been possible without a great deal of medical research into breast cancer. “Without research I would not be alive today” she says. This led to her involvement with The National Breast Cancer Research Institute in Galway and her desire to help their work by raising much needed funds.

Geraldine decided to host a Coffee Evening last October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Having met Michael Lowry at another event prior to her diagnosis, she decided to ask him to help promote her event. His response was instant, and he immediately got behind the event.

What started out as a small event exploded and the ‘Coffee Evening’ raised the staggering final sum of almost €40,000, with all proceeds being donated to the Breast Cancer Research Institute.

Both Geraldine and the Institute were overwhelmed and Geraldine says she will be forever grateful to Michael Lowry for the help and support he gave her with the event. She hoped that someday she would be able to do something to publicly acknowledge Michael’s help and that opportunity arose when she signed his Nomination Papers in the presence of the Deputy, the County Returns Officer James Seymour and Deputy Lowry’s Director of Elections Philip Kinane in Clonmel on Monday afternoon.

It was a special moment for Geraldine and a very memorable one for Deputy Lowry, who says he was deeply honoured that Geraldine travelled to Clonmel for such a significant part of the Election Campaign. “Geraldine is a true inspiration to all women who encounter cancer. She has reached out to help others by sharing her experience and by organising such a successful event for the Research Unit at Galway Hospital”, Mr Lowry stated.

Geraldine paid tribute to the “phenomenal help and support” she had received from Deputy Lowry, when he heard about her fundraiser and said it was an honour for her to nominate him and she wished him every success in his upcoming election.


Lowry Further Commits To Support Of Phase 2 Work at Cashel Handball Club

Deputy Michael Lowry has welcomed the opening of the new 40 x 20 handball court at Cashel Handball Club and committed to furthering his help in the securing of future funding for planned work at the club.

The new court is an important addition to the facilities on offer at this thriving sports facility and Deputy Michael Lowry was delighted to assist with securing initial funding to provide this court.

The new court is now the culmination of Phase 1 work and just the start of a further 3 Phase modernisation plan.

The new Court, which opened in the 3rd quarter of 2019, has over the past number of months proved to be a very popular addition with members.
Cashel Handball Club has a very impressive track record within handball circles, with current members holding numerous All-Ireland and World titles at both Juvenile and Adult levels.

This new 40 x 20 modern court will go a long way to help develop the skills of the more than 80 juvenile club members, both boys and girls, who are currently training and playing at the club. Access to these enhanced facilities will continue to build the Club’s winning profile and attract more young people into the sport.

Funding for upgrading work such as this is provided through Capital Sports Grants. The funding for the new court was made possible a couple of years ago, through the hard work and persistence of Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry, who will continue to work towards securing further funding in support of Phase 2 of this project.


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.


109 Extra Medical Staff For Ultra-Modern 40 Bed Unit At Clonmel Hospital

Photo L-R: Maria Barry (General Manager STGH), Prof. Peter Murchan (Consultant General Surgeon), Dr Marcela Lanzinger (Intensive Care Consultant), Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry, Marita McGrath (Clinical Nurse Manager).

It has taken just 11 months from the arrival of builders on site to the point where they will officially hand over the new finished unit at South Tipperary General Hospital tomorrow, January 16th, 2020. The completely finished project has cost approximately €20m, with construction costs coming in at just under €10m. The unit will be fitted out to the very highest of standards with each room deemed to be ‘gold standard’.

To date a staff of 109, including nurses, health care assistants and related staff have been employed for the new unit with the recruitment of additional physiotherapy, speech and language and other speciality services in the pipeline.

“The reality is that seeing is believing” said Prof. Peter Murchan, Consultant General Surgeon at South Tipperary General Hospital as he proudly led a tour of this new 40 bed facility at the hospital on Monday last. Acknowledging that many had said it could not be done, he emphasised that the state-of-the-art facility is due to the ‘enormous hands on commitment’ of Deputy Michael Lowry, latter who networked with both the Departments of Health & Finance, to push this project forward.

‘Michael Lowry has been a tremendous driver of this project and, without his help, it could not have been done in such a timely fashion or, indeed, not done at all. We are extremely grateful to him’, said the esteemed Consultant, adding ‘Credit where credit is due to Michael’.

The ultra-modern 40 bed unit at the Clonmel Hospital comprises an overall 3,300sq.m. area, 1,700 sq m of which is working floor area. It is a two-storey building, designed and erected by E.S.S. (Extra Space Solutions) with 20 single rooms on the lower level Surgical area and the same number of individual rooms on the upper level Medical floor. All rooms provide for isolation care if required, as well as greatly assisting the hospital in helping to provide a solution to serious over-crowding in the Emergency Department and main hospital, while also increasing the capacity to provide elective procedures.

Speaking on the first tour of the new facility on Monday, Deputy Lowry said that the Hospital has been under serious pressure, adding that “This is the first real investment it has had in many years and it will secure the hospital into the future”.

Giving credit to the partnership approach involved in bringing the project to fruition, Deputy Lowry said that there are still those out there who say that this project couldn’t or wouldn’t happen, “but here it is and I am delighted to have played a role in it”, he concluded.