Category Archives: Uncategorized

Students With Special Needs Denied Equal Opportunities Sitting Leaving Certificate

bookIt’s almost unthinkable that students with special needs should be left without basic supports in their leaving cert year. Many would expect that as a fundamental level of social justice in a modern education system. However, new figures paint a not-so-pretty picture for families with special needs. Last year alone the State turned down support measures for 1,193 students due to sit their Leaving cert exams.

The support required depends on the needs of the child. Among other conditions, Students with needs as diverse as visual impairment; dyslexia; dyspraxia; autism or Asperger’s can apply for necessary supports – such as the assistance of a reader; the use of a laptop; access to scribes whilst sitting exams under what’s called the ‘reasonable accommodation’ scheme. The logic being that the support follows the individual need of the student.

It all sounds sensible on paper. However, In practice recent figures debated at Oireachtas committee level show an alarming number of applications are being rejected. The rejections have increased year on year under this government’s watch. Take reader applications for example: 669 students with special needs were denied access to a reader back in 2012; rejections rose to 894 in 2013; and now we learn that in 2014 – 914 children’s application for a reader were turned down. If anyone doubts the overall context it’s worth pointing out that this is a 37% rise in rejected applications compared with a modest 4.5% increase in overall applications in the corresponding period. Continue reading

Banking Inquiry:  The starting gun for a new Ireland 

bankingIt’s summer time and the weather is fine. With plenty of community events and festivals in full swing the banking inquiry is possibly the last thing on the minds of Wicklow people right now.

It sure wasn’t on my mind as I enjoyed the flavours, fun and festival feel at last Sunday’s Taste of Wicklow event in the Abbey grounds. But something did strike me – for the first summer in several years people seemed to be more than simply a little bit more sunny-side-up. What could it be? The weather? Nope, there was more to it than simply our annual trademark ‘enjoy while it lasts’ relationship with the weather! There must be something else to explain the welcome pep in people’s step! What on earth could it be?

By the time I had got home, watered the dog and sat down to flick through the papers I had all but forgotten my earlier observations. As I glanced over the week’s news – terrorist attacks in Tunisia and France, the Berkeley student burials and the Greek Euro Exit saga – my eyes stalled in their pursuit and focused on those two sigh-inspiring words: Banking Inquiry. Continue reading

A Long and Memorable Road – Yes Equality Wicklow

yesIts been a long and memorable road these last few months. Personally I’ve never been involved in such an energetic, committed and caring group of people as our Wicklow Yes Equality Team. Whatever happens tomorrow we can be proud of the cause we have championed and the effort we put into it. One person for me deserves a huge hug/pat on the back/handshake for his patience, dedication, diplomacy and persistence. That is Ian McGahon Win, lose or draw it’s been an inspiration to work with you Ian. Get some rest!

Vote ‘Yes’ For a Republic We Once Aspired To – Wicklow Times/ Wicklow Voice

123North Wicklow Fianna Fáil and Yes Equality activist James Doyle urges residents to turn out this Friday and vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum on Marriage Equality.
“This Friday we in Wicklow, and across the country, have the opportunity to recognise human diversity in our laws. A Republic is meant to do that – society’s needs and aspirations reflected in the laws of the land. For many of the heterosexual majority this referendum may not be of personal relevance. They can commit their love in legal marriage if they, and their loved one, so wish. But what about their gay friends or siblings? What about their children, their grandchildren – what society do we want for them:
“Do we want a society in which the word ‘gay’ is hurled around the schoolyard – innocent fun for some perhaps, but long-lasting hurt for others; Do we want an Ireland where outside of the main towns and cities a couple feel so awkward, self-conscious and even ashamed at the idea of walking hand in hand down the street – ever fearful of the status quo ‘eyebrow being raised’.”
“Or are we prepared to validate diversity and individuality: to embrace those who have and will ‘come out’? Are we ready to call upon an Ireland in which the heart aching act of ‘coming out’ becomes so redundant that its vexed meaning today becomes something of the past. Are we willing to open up in law for the minority what is at risk of being taken for granted by the majority?”
“A thumbs up to Marriage Equality in our communities across the county and the country at large, won’t entirely banish the prejudice or the hurt, nor will it depreciate the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. What it will do is respect our society’s strength of diversity and renew the republic we once aspired to.”
James Doyle is a North Wicklow Fianna Fáil and Yes Equality Activist, Solicitor and Part-Time Farmer