Dáil Éireann - Volume 571 - 02 October, 2003
Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.
Mr. Connolly Mr. Connolly
123. Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will incorporate in the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2003 the enforceable right for persons with disabilities to an education appropriate to their individual needs, together with all the backup resources, supports and services necessary to enable them to benefit from an inclusive education. [21707/03]
Mr. N. Dempsey Mr. N. Dempsey
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): The Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill is intended to create a system for access to education for children and young people with educational disabilities that gives effect to established constitutional and statutory rights and  establishes a range of measures for parents and children to vindicate those rights which will not require recourse to the courts.
In Donoghue v. the Minister for Education the Supreme Court held that by virtue of Article 42 of the Constitution every child is entitled to an education which gives “each child such advice, instruction and teaching as would enable him to make the best possible use of his inherent and potential capabilities, physical, mental and moral, however limited these capacities might be”. Section 7 of the Education Act 1998 provides that it is a function of the Minister for Education and Science to ensure “that there is made available to each person resident in the State, including a person with a disability or who has other special educational needs, support services and a level and quality of education appropriate to meeting the needs and abilities of that person”. These rights are already enforceable at law by the courts.
Section 11 of the Bill will create an easier mechanism for parents of children and young people with educational disabilities to enforce their educational rights if they so wish. Parents, if they feel their views are not being given full recognition, or where they feel their child's educational plan is not being implemented effectively, may appeal any decisions concerning their children and these matters to an independent review board. The board has the power to compel bodies, including health boards to take specific actions to address matters before it. The Bill also provides that the National Council for Special Education and the relevant health board will make all the necessary services available to children and young people with educational disabilities to enable them to participate in, and benefit from, education and, if they fail to do so, the parents of that child or young person can appeal to the appeals board and the board will have the power to compel one or other body to provide necessary services.
Dáil Éireann 571 Written Answers. Proposed Legislation.