Wednesday, January 21, 2009

'St Josephs Centre for Visually Impaired' Forced to Sell Land to Finance School Building Costs after Government Betrayal

At a meeting staged today, the St Joseph's Centre for the Visually Impaired outlined plans to the local community to redevelop part of their campus in order to finance the rebuilding of their facilities, which are in dire need of repair.

Despite the fact that St Joseph's serves some of the most vulnerable children in the state, the Department of Education have repeatedly frustrated the management board's attempts to redevelop the schools and have now been forced to prostitute themselves to the property market in order to provide the kind of service that they feel their students deserve.

It is proposed that a seven-acre site within the campus will be re-developed to house 7 blocks of 362 apartments ranging in height from four to eight storeys. It is hoped that this development will fund the school building costs of approximately €35million - only €15 million of which was provisionally promised by the Department of Education five years ago with no firm commitment.

It is an absolute scandal that some of the most needy children in the country cannot have their needs directly met by the state. What message does it send to the families of those suffering from a visual impairment when this excellent educational facility is forced to gamble in the property market to secure the future of the centre. The services offered by St Joseph's are remarkable, considering their limited resources:
Assessment Service
Preschool and Early Intervention
Primary and Secondary Education
Vocational Training
Family Resource Centre
National Braille Production Centre
Training and Research Department
Ophthalmology Clinic
Occupational Therapy
Speech and Language Therapy
Residential Service
Library and Information Service
I am calling on the Minister for Education to immediately meet with the trustees and Board of Management of St Joseph's Centre for the Visually Impaired and to commit to the funding needed to help those children who cannot help themselves. The measure of a civilised society is how we serve the needs of our most vulnerable. In this case it is quite clear that the Department of Education have acted in a most uncivilised fashion.