Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has criticised the Government for their failure to tackle the 42-month waiting list for speech and language supports children in Dublin South West.

The Sinn Féin TD has repeatedly raised the issue in the Dáil and directly with the Taoiseach, but there has been no reduction on the waiting list in the past 11 months due to the absence of key personnel in the CHO7 area.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“There is currently a 42-month waiting list for speech and language supports children in Dublin South West.

“I have raised this matter directly with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education and Skills. I have also written to the Minister for Health, the Minister of State with responsibility for disability and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Yet there is no urgency to tackle this massive problem with Ministers lining up to say it’s not their responsibility and there has been no actual movement on the waiting list in the past 11 months.

“The failure of the Government to tackle this issue is having a huge effect on children and it is unfair that any child is left without supports.

“One expert told me that every day that a child is left without this support represents a backwards step of two days. For a child waiting three and a half years that represents seven years in his or her development. This must not be allowed to continue.

“The matter needs greater focus from the Minister for Health and more funds must be urgently released to tackle the appalling delays.”

Crowe continued:

“I raised this issue again in the Dáil and Minister for State, Catherine Byrne who said she could not stand over the Government’s record on this issue.

“She said 713 people are waiting to be seen for an initial assessment, 244 of whom have been waiting for longer than one year. All of those waiting over one year are under 18 years of age, with the majority of these individuals awaiting specialist disability multidisciplinary team assessments and interventions. In addition, 313 individuals are waiting for initial intervention following assessments.

“This is appalling and even the Minister admitted she was shocked by the figures.

“The current situation facing children with profound needs is unacceptable. The Minister for Health must tackle the waiting list for speech and language supports for children in Dublin South West as a priority. That means urgently identifying key personnel and allocating resources to tackle the current waiting list and long backlog of children waiting to be given speech and language supports.”