News & Media

HSE response to School for the Deaf concerns is absolutely shameful

10 March 2021

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Sherlock expresses huge frustration at the proposed loss of specialist on-site speech and language therapy services.  

Senator Marie Sherlock has expressed her alarm at the HSE’s plan to withdraw the specialist on site speech and language service in the Holy Family school for the Deaf, Cabra.

A copy of the correspondence received today is available below.

Senator Sherlock said:

From talking to the parents, principal and board of the school, it is very clear there is deep distress at the prospect of the loss of their specialist on-site speech and language service within the school. This service is critical to the delivery of education in the school and to the development of its pupils and it has been a vital part of the school for over 10 years.

“I appreciate that the HSE are trying to improve disability services for children nationwide by centralising where those services are going to be made available. But the reality for the School for the Deaf in Cabra is that the loss of the specialist on-site speech and language therapy service will have a profound impact on that school. Currently, over 54% of the pupils in the school rely on this specialist service.

”It is madness to think that if this plan goes ahead, the HSE will have to incur additional costs for interpretive services each time a child has to go to SLT. The parents and board of the school have also articulated major concerns about school days lost given that children travel from counties right across the Leinster and from as far as Longford to get to the school, but they would have to return to their place of residence to access services under the HSE's plan.

"Over the past two weeks, I have contacted the HSE’s Head of Disability services and have spoken directly to Minister Anne Rabbitte to appeal to them to understand the specialist nature of the speech and language therapy that is provided in the school and to prevent the loss of service there.

"Today, the school and I each received correspondence from the HSE Dublin North City and County to say that the HSE is forging ahead with its plans. Their indifference to the school’s concerns is absolutely shameful.

"Ultimately there is a broader failure here to recognise deaf services as a specialised need within health services in this country. In 2017, the HSE produced a report entitled  Report of the National Advisory Group on Specialist supports for Deaf Children to National PDS, which contained nine specific recommendations. It appears that this report has been since gathering dust as it is not at all apparent how the nine recommendations were in any way considered in the HSE's current reconfiguration plan for disability services.

"This loss of service cannot be allowed to happen."

ENDS

Copy of the correspondence from the HSE is available here: https://www.labour.ie/assets/files/pdf/repdr-21-01377_-_slt_services_at_holy_family_school_for_the_deaf.pdf