Hundreds on anti-SNA cuts march for opening of Dail


Up to 800 people gathered in Central Bank plaza and marched on the Dáil with a clear message for the government; change up your policy and start protecting the vulnerable or you will find yourselves out of power in the wilderness along with the previous governing party. Banners were on the march from political organisations, community groups,  parents associations, and National Traveller organisations.  The mood was one of strong defiance. 

This is the fifth protest on this very issue but what people have witnessed is a continuation of the cuts which were started by the previous Government.   There had been a rumour which was converted into a promise by the political parties whilst they were campaigning that they were going to protect the vulnerable in this society.  Politicians campaign in the poetry of promises and govern in the prose of policy and they are fooling nobody with this routine.

The march wound its way up from Dame Street, past Trinity, and up into Molesworth Street where the substantial crowd was addressed by a number of speakers.   The first one to speak was Tomas O’Duailing, a principal at Griffen Valley Educate Together.  He questioned the morals of a government who can’t afford to pay Special Needs Assistants but can magic up €35 million to pay the legal costs for the Religious orders arising from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.  What kind of government pays for this whilst condemning the future of thousands of children to a sub-standard Education and care?  

A mother of an autistic child, Vivienne, said that this was a fight for survival, because there was nothing else to do.  She said that this government should know that they were picking on the wrong people, because we know what a tantrum is like. We know what it is like to fight with every ounce of your energy for what you believe is right for your child, and that is what was going to happen now.  People would fight for SNA’s.

An SNA worker who was made unemployed recently - Joan Laverty, claimed that Education Minister Ruairí Quinn’s understanding of shared access appeared to have bi-location at its core and denounced this access as a farce.

Eileen Flynn, the Education worker with the Irish Traveller Movement said that Travellers were no stranger to having their futures written off and had just suffered massive cuts to their Education.  Also Traveller children are no different and have needs for SNA’s.   ‘Is this Government saying to all children that need an SNA that they see no future for them?  Children can achieve great things once they are given the supports that they need. ‘

Many speakers spoke of being under no illusion as to where the money was going.  The money was being taken from Education and being transferred over to pay for the losses incurred by the reckless lending of bankers.  This government is counting on being able to pick off the weak and the vulnerable in our society, but yesterday’s protest proves that solidarity is growing and people are preparing to fight back.