Archive for the ‘St Michaels House Campaign’ Category

Senator Mary White joins the Campaign

Monday, September 7th, 2009

We received a very warm and encouraging telephone call from Senator Mary White today. Senator White is very suppportive of this campaign and has vowed to help us in whatever way she can. This support -as with all our support- is greatly appreciated.

We will need this support as we recieved a very disappointing letter form Batt O’ Keefe T.D. Minister for Education and Science last Friday. I find it hard to believe that Batt wrote this letter himself  and I will post my response to his letter over the next few days.

Senator Fergal Quinn advises a Yes Vote to Lisbon

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Thank you to Senator Feargal Quinn for supporting our campaign. Feargal feels that by publicising the issues we have a much greater chance of success.

He does advise against supporting the No Campaign in the Lisbon Referendum as he feels that ” if we do not support a more efficient Europe then our chances of solving our financial problems will be limited”. I respect this view – but I disagree with it.

Why not join our Forum on this site if you want your views on Europe expressed.

Senator Brendan Ryan to meet with Mary Canning Principal St Michaels House Special Needs School Skerries

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Senator Brendan Ryan has kindly offered to meet with Mary Canning Principal St Michaels House Special Needs School Skerries. Mary Canning was part of the School Case Conference team that refused to admit our son Michael to the school. We were told by Mary Canning that the decision to admit or not to admit Michael would be made by the Board of Management of the school – but that proved incorrect as the decision was not made by the Board. It is very unsettling when the Principal of the school is unclear on the decision making process in her own school!

Hopefully Senator Brendan Ryan will be able to assist us change the Principal’s and the Board of  Management’s enrolment policy -as change it must!

Mr John Moloney T.D., Minister for Equality,Disability & Mental Health now investigating these matters

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Mr John Moloney, T.D., Minister for Equality, Disability & Mental Health in now investigating these matters – we thank you for your support

Meanwhile may I draw your attention to the fact that St Michaels House receive 84 million euro from the HSE every year – but would appear not to be accountable to anybody for how this enormous sum is spent. There is very little information available to the public as to where this money is actually spent. Furthermore it  would appear there are no mechanisms in place to determine  whether the money is being used in the most efficient manner possible.

Tommy Broughan Promises To Raise St Michaels House Special Needs School Skerries in Dail Eireann

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

We are delighted to report that Tommy Broughan TD has promised to raise this matter in Dail Eireann. It is tremendous the amount of cross party support we are receiving. So far we have a total of 28 Public Representatives between the Dail and the Seanad who have been in contact with us over these matters.

The campaign has just begun and it is wonderful to have this support behind us – but it looks like we will need all the help we can get as it would appear that St Michael’s house are not prepared to change their admission policy.

We are in this for the long haul and we are prepared for a long and arduous battle – but with the two houses of the Oireachtas rowing in behind us-we feel confident that we will achieve our objectives.

Thank you to all of you working diligently on our behalf- it is much appreciated!

HSE now behind our campaign re St Micheals House Special Needs School Skerries

Monday, August 31st, 2009

I spoke with Mt Pat Dunne Local Health Manager, Health Services Executive,Local Health Office,Dublin North, late last week and he has assured me he will do all within his power to help. Particularly he will be confirming when a second educational psychologist’s assessment can be obtained once a child has been determined to be at a certain level of retardation e.g Moderate or Severe. There is huge confusion within St Michaels House personnel over this matter – some staff say that a second assessment cannot be erntertained before a period of two years whilst other say 1 year and others saying 6 months. Mr Pat Dunne will seek to find the definitive answer to this.

Mr Pat Dunne was also very supportive about the new school building project and pledged his full support in this matter. Many thanks Pat for your endeavours and your encouragement- we really appreciate it!

Senator David Norris backs campaign for Special Needs School in Skerries

Sunday, August 30th, 2009


We are delighted to receive the backing and support of Senator David Norris for our campaign. Depite being on holiday Mr Norris kindly contacted us to say that he is behind our campaign and has offered to raise the matter as a matter on the adjournment of the Seanad when he returns. If you do not know what an adjournment is, it is when a member of the Seanad has five minutes at the end of the days proceedings to raise an issue with the relevant Minister and to recieve a reply from that Minister.


Many thanks David for your encouraging words and for your kind offer – we look forward to hearing this worthy cause being mentioned in the Seanad- meanwhile enjoy what is left of your holidays!

Letter Received from Michael Kennedy TD RE St Michaels House Special Needs Campaign

Saturday, August 29th, 2009


Dear Michael


Thank you for your mail and for making representations on my behalf.

The reply sent by Mr  Ledwidge does not clarify the matter.


Mr Ledwidge refers to the fact that the school is not wheelchair friendly. The Assistant Principal of the school  together with two Board of Management members Mr Tim Chadwick (Chairperson) and Dr Anne Power acknowledged that accessibility for my son Michael is not an issue as all the facilities he would be using are on the ground floor. Therefore the accessability issue is not relevant.


He refers to the fact that “continued priority be given to the provision of an alternative school”. Given that the Chairperson of the board of directors of the school was not aware of progress on the building of the new school up until recently and had not made representations to the Department of Education in 8 months, together with board members of the school not knowing who was responsible for ensuring a new school was built- it is obvious the building of the new school is not a priority of the board.


Can he substantiate the “enormous pressure from parents and St Michaels house to get a commitment from the Department of Education” and can he confirm that the offer of a free site still holds – as the Department of Education appear to be unaware of this.


Furthermore can he explain why the plans for the new school are to accommodate a mere 65 students given that there are presently over 65 students currently seeking a place in the school and with  actual population growth in the area and projected growth this proposed level of accommodation is totally inadequate.


Can he also explain why the school this year had only 26 students attending despite having capacity for 32 students?


Can he tell us exactly how many children from the North County are having to travel long distances on a daily basis to attend schools in Baldoyle and Cabra(Kilbarrack)?


Can he confirm that he believes that it is acceptable that a profoundly mentally and physically retarded boy of 5 years of age who suffers very badly from travel sickness – should have to complete a 40 mile round trip daily to attend a school?  


The reason that my son Michael was refused entry to the school was that “Under it’s current Admission Policy the School provides educational services to children who have moderate intellectual disability only”. The reason  this policy is in place is to keep numbers down – I was told this by members of the Board of Management.


Mr  Ledwidge acknowledges that my son has been offered a place in Lusk National school – this is a mainstream school ( who incidentally are absolutely superb and so accommodating).Could you ask  Mr Ledwidge to explain the logic behind a 5 year old profoundly retarded boy being refused entry into a school for moderate intellectual disability and yet he is welcomed with open arms by a mainstream national school?


Can  you also ask Mr Ledwidge to outline the difference in the curriculum for children with profound intellectual disability versus the curriculum for children with moderate intellectual disability at ages 5 and 6?


I hope Michael this clarifies my position for you and please note that I will not rest until this matter has been resolved.


 Please let me know if you are in a position to help me with this matter.


 Yours faithfully

 Tommy Boyle







From: []
Sent: 25 August 2009 09:47
Subject: Representation for Mr Tommy Boyle, “St Michael’s House, Skerries”

Dear Tommy,


RE: St Michael’s House, Skerries


Further to my previous letter, I now attach the received reply from Mr Paul Ledwidge, CEO of St Michael’s House North.


You will note its contents and I trust it clarifies the matter for you. In the meantime please do not hesitate to contact me should you need any assistance with any other matter.


Yours Sincerely,
Michael Kennedy, TD


Dear Michael,


I refer to your email of the 13th of August re. Tommy Boyle.


St. Michael’s House Special National School in Skerries is based in a rented farmhouse, which is not wheelchair accessible.


A whole school evaluation carried out in 2005 stated that the nature of the accommodation does not facilitate the enrolment of children with significant physical disability and other complex needs and recommended that continued priority be given to the provision of an alternative school building.


Despite enormous pressure from parents and St. Michael’s House and the offer of a free site, it has not been possible to get a commitment from the Department of Education to build a school for the children in this area.


Mr. Boyle’s son has been offered a place in St. Michael’s House Special National School in Baldoyle which is imminently suitable for him and is fully accessible.


Until such time as the Department of Education provide a purpose built school for St. Michael’s House in the Skerries area, it is unfortunate that we will have to refer some children to our school in Baldoyle and many children with autism and intellectual disability travel from the North County to St. Michael’s House Special National School for children with autism in Cabra (Kilbarrack from September 2010).


I understand Mr. Boyle’s son has been accepted as a pupil in Lusk National School and St. Michael’s House will provide him with support in attending that school, within the available resources, should he wish to take up this placement.


Kind Regards,

Paul Ledwidge

Chief Executive Officer

St Michael’s House

Minister for Education Mr Batt O Keefe making enquires RE Admission Policy at St Michaels House Special Needs School in Skerries

Friday, August 28th, 2009


We have received letters from the Minister for Education and Science Mr Batt O Keefe  informing us that he is making enquiries into these matters.


The matters in question relate to:


I am a concerned and frustrated parent of a profoundly mentally and physically retarded boy aged 5.


We live in Lusk and our son has been refused entry to the St Michael’s house special needs school in Skerries – as they say they will only cater for children who are moderately retarded.


He has been warmly welcomed as a pupil in Lusk National School – a mainstream school.  I do not believe that this school will be suitable for him in the medium term(i.e. next 2 years).


I want to use this time to force St Michaels House to admit him to the school in Skerries ( it has only 26 pupils despite having resources for 32 pupils). I also want to ensure that a new school is built in Skerries to cater for all special needs children.


I intend to use this issue to support a No vote in the Lisbon Treaty as I feel that is the only issue this Government really cares about – and if they lose the vote it will bring the Government down- and a new administration may actually provide this long overdue and long promised new school. I know I may incur the wrath of people like Michael O Leary of Ryanair but then again we are all well aware of his attitude to the infirm.

St Michaels House Special Needs School in Skerries North County Dublin

Thursday, August 27th, 2009


We received an email yesterday from Deputy Olivia Mitchell TD encouraging us to accept St Michael’s House policies as they stand. She also implies that we should not bother with this campaign, as by the time the new school will be built – it will be too late for our son. This was most disheartening – although Olivia meant well and has extensive personal experience of this situation herself.


This site will hopefully encourage others like us to fight the good fight – even when all around want you to accept things as they are. The very Irish trait of not complaining makes for a very endearing race- but equips us badly as advocates for injustices that deeply affect our lives.


As I reminded Olivia – it is always too soon to quit!