Patience of Special Needs Assistants "has run out"

SNAs with IMPACT will be balloted for industrial action at the start of the new school year

Patience of Special Needs Assistants "has run out"

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Special Needs Assistants are threatening industrial action, despite the announcement of almost a thousand new jobs yesterday.

An additional 975 SNA positions were announced by the Education Minister - an increase of 7.5%.

The new positions will bring the total number of SNAs to 13,990, at an annual cost of €458m.

However, the IMPACT trade union says many existing SNAs do not know whether they need to apply for redeployment as allocations were not announced before the end of the latest school term.

In a statement, the union suggests: "The SNA allocations establish the number of SNAs that are allocated to individual schools each school year.

"The delay in their publication means SNAs don’t know if they have a job to return to next September, but are unable to apply for redeployment in the event that they don’t."

The union's SNA members will be balloted for industrial action at the start of the new school year.

SNA Patricia Fanning told Newstalk Breakfast the current situation is "unacceptable".

Patricia, who is also the SNA North Dublin Branch Officer with IMPACT, observed that the delays in announcing allocations represents a "huge disrespect to SNAs".

She welcomed the additional positions announced this week, but pointed out: "The needs of the children change as we go along. That's why the announcements and the allocations are so important - we need to know where the SNAs are going to be placed.

"We have a panel that puts the SNAs in the right place - but we have to be able to access it."

She stressed that they need to know about official allocations earlier.

"Our patience has run out. We've been promised every year this is going to stop - and every year it's the same thing. For the last four years in July when these are coming out - and it's highly problematic for us."