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Climate action, tackling sexual violence and special education are key priorities for Fine Gael in the Oireachtas this week – Bruton and Carroll MacNeill

23rd November 2021 - Fine Gael Press Office

Climate action, tackling sexual violence and special education are key priorities for Fine Gael representatives in the Houses of the Oireachtas this week.

Deputy Richard Bruton, Chair of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, will this week speak in the Dáil on the importance of Government working with the agri-food and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors to ensure Ireland can meet its climate action obligations.

Deputy Bruton said, “Ireland is more reliant than almost any other country in the world on exporting, so we, more than others, should be quick to respond to the compelling case to change when it comes to climate action. We want to sell into high margin, premium markets so we must be sensitive to the growing demand of those consumers. But we have left it late.

“The future is with those enterprises who react first to get on the right side of this fundamental transformation in the markets we must compete in. We cannot wait until our products are rejected by consumers. Much of the change already pays for itself, as early movers in every sector have shown.

“Getting this right is crucial for rural Ireland. A bright future for rural Ireland must be built upon the infrastructures and practices of the future, not those of some idealised past. We must hand over farms and homes in rural Ireland to the next generation which are resilient in the face of the net zero future to which the world is committing.”

Deputy Bruton has also welcomed the progress made on the Sex Offenders Bill which is now before the Houses and will ensure that perpetrators are effectively managed and monitored. He said the work being carried out should assist, as a top priority, the level of detection of such crimes.

Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Party, is urging the early delivery of a new action plan to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV).

“The new plan should prioritise the implementation of concentrated services and complaints mechanisms that supports the needs of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

“I would hope the audit of the current system for the delivery of policy and services, which was carried out by Mary Higgins and Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, is reflected in the new strategy. It is also important to remind victims, particularly at this time of year, that there are supports available and I would urge them to seek help.”

Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill has also called for the extension of the School Inclusion Model (SIM), which provides for in-school therapies (speech and language, occupational) and additional professional supports, for children with additional needs.

Deputy Carroll MacNeill said, “The expansion of the provision for Special Education in the past five years is something which Fine Gael in Government has prioritised, with extensive work carried out by my colleague, Minister for Special Education, Josepha Madigan.

“This includes piloting the School Inclusion Model which has, for the first time, created dedicated teams of therapeutic professionals to work exclusively with schools, particularly Special Needs Teachers and Special Needs Assistants, moving away from a model depending exclusively on referrals to the Health system.

“This can make supports more effective and accessible, and has the potential to change the lives of children with SEN in a positive and hugely beneficial manner.

“There is extensive engagement with the Departments of Health and Children on how to expand the SIM to other areas outside Dublin.

“I would also like to see the provision of upskilling opportunities to teaching staff so that they can provide some therapy supports to their students. This would ensure that every school in the country could benefit from the provision of therapeutic and psychological supports for students.”

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