Dáil Éireann - Volume 541 - 09 October, 2001

Written Answers. - Pending Legal Actions.

114. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of court cases [1101] lodged against his Department similar to the Jamie Sinnott case. [22956/01]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The Jamie Sinnott case related to the educational entitlements of a young man over 18 years of age who has suffered from autism and profound mental and physical disability since infancy. There are currently ten cases before the High Court which relate to the educational entitlements of persons with special needs who are over 18 years. The persons in question suffer from a variety of special needs, including autism.

As I have previously indicated to this House, I regard it as entirely unacceptable that any parent and, in particular, a parent of a child with special needs, should find it necessary to resort to litigation to secure their child's educational entitlements. While this Government has presided over an unprecedented level of development in special education services, I am fully aware that much work remains to be done.

In August of this year I announced a range of new measures aimed at further enhancing the scope and quality of our special education services. These measures include the holding of a special needs education forum, the introduction of a Disabilities (Education and Training) Bill, the accelerated development of the national educational psychological service, the accelerated development of the National Council for Special Education and the establishment of a group of senior officials in my Department to examine education services for students with special needs at second level.

These measures, coupled with the action already taken by this Government in the special needs area, will ensure the delivery of a quality education service for all who need it and remove the need for parents to have recourse to litigation to have their children's educational entitlements addressed.