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21 February 2008 Edition

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Media View

Welcome on board Vincent but please, pay more attention!

A couple of weeks ago it would have been a very small section of Irish society who knew what ABA stood for or what kind of education facilities were available to children with autism.
But since Cian and Yvonne Ó Cuannacháin were saddled with a €2 million legal bill following the failure of their lost High Court action to have their son Cian’s Applied Behaviour Analysis tuition paid for by the Department of Education the story has run and run.
Most of the major papers have run substantial features on the Ó Cuannacháin’s and other families who are being left high and dry by the failure of the government to properly resource ABA.
As Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhgín Ó Caoláin TD pointed out supporting children with autism in the Dáil debate:
“Let there be no confusion on this. The Minister’s refusal to provide for ABA education is not about the needs of children. It is not about favouring one educational model over another. It is about money. The Minister and her Department have got it into their heads that providing ABA for all who need it will be far too costly and therefore square pegs must be forced into round holes.”
The media coverage of the issue and the palpable anger of the public has put a huge amount of pressure on Fianna Fáil TDs though the Green Party, whose TDs supported ABA before entering coalition have got off lightly.

Vincent Browne was on the warpath again in his column in Wednesday’s Irish Times beating the drum on the fact that everyone, bar Vincent, and especially everyone in the ‘political class’ ignores the fact that ‘more than 5,000 people die here every year because of inequality and deprivation’.
His claim is based on an Institute of Public Health study, published some years back which showed that the mortality rates were far higher for people from lower social classes. As Vincent points out:
“For all cancers it showed there was a mortality rate of 83.1 per 100,000 for the highest social group, for the next highest it was 107.7, for the next 116.1 and for the lowest social group it was 185.2. That is over twice the mortality for the poor as compared with the rich.”
All good stuff and always refreshing to see someone talking about inequality in Irish society. An Phoblacht readers will likely have heard it all before as while elements of the ‘political class’ did ignore it, Sinn Féin did not and it was covered in this paper, is cited in the party’s standing health policy document and by Sinn Féin TDs in the Dáil.
Worth remembering as well that in the December issue of Village Vincent announced that it was not clear which way Sinn Féin was going to campaign on the Lisbon Treaty (Seemed to be crystal clear to everyone else) but he anticipated the party would be calling for a Yes vote.
On behalf of those of us who were campaigning for equality and social change in Irish society while Vincent was scrambling for a Fine Gael nomination, we welcome him to the side of the good guys but maybe he could pay a bit more attention.

Finally, more evidence of the kind of particularly blatant trickery we can expect from the Yes side in the Lisbon Treaty. A debate organised by the National Forum on Europe in Trinity College on the Treaty has been thrown into some confusion after one of the speakers pulled out citing a ‘major bias in its set-up’.
David Campbell Bannerman, Deputy Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) had been due to speak alongside former Socialist TD Joe Higgins and Dermot Ganley of Libertas on the No side. The National Forum preferred to import speakers from Britain than to give an opportunity to a speaker from Sinn Féin or the Campaign Against the EU Constitution. The aim was to smear the No side by connecting it with the Little Englanders of UKIP, something Bannerman recognised.
“There seems to be an intention by the Yes supporters behind the scenes to link the No campaign with withdrawal from the EU – when the Irish referendum is nothing to do with withdrawal,” Bannerman pointed out. “This seems to be a sign of desperation on their part.”
And the reason, by the way, that no newspaper source is cited for this is that none of them saw fit to cover it. I suspect media coverage of embarrassments for the Yes campaign will continue to be fairly scanty as time goes by.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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