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Why Colin's backing this little boy's school battle

Colin Farrell has come to the aid of a Dublin family who are fighting for the rights of their disabled son.

The actor, himself a father to a special needs child, has come out in support of Audrey and Tommy Boyle in their fight for their son Michael to be in mainstream education.

The north county Dublin couple held a charity night to highlight their campaign and found support from an unlikely source, when the Hollywood actor got on board and recorded a special message for the meeting.

"I had seen Colin Farrell speaking about his son James and he made a couple of comments that went straight through to my heart. We are over the moon to have Colin on board as he is as passionate about inclusion as we are. I spoke to Colin last week and we spoke about both our children who are the same age having special needs and have gone down the path of them going to mainstream schools which gives them far greater opportunities," said Mrs Boyle.

The Hollywood heartthrob has spoken before about the difficulties he faces raising a son with special needs. His seven-year-old son James suffers from a rare form of cerebral palsy known as Angelman Syndrome which affects his speech and motor skills.

Mr Farrell has come out in total support of the Boyle family and believes the work they have taken on is profoundly important.

"In the name of their son Michael and so many other Irish children, they are insisting that every child regardless of intellectual ability be fully included in the academic and social opportunities provided by the Irish educational system. Too long have members of our community been ostracised as a result of some physical or intellectual disability, it is time now for full integration starting where all life begins, at childhood, in school. I fully support the efforts of the Boyles in their quest to make full inclusion for all children within Irish schools a reality," he said.

The 34-year-old actor wants his son James, like Michael Boyle, to have the opportunity to reach his potential and be as happy as can be.

"And I'll do whatever I can do, stay in his way, get out of his way, to see that that's realised. That's what it's all about," he said.

Mr Boyle believes the 1994 Salamanca Statement that was signed by Ireland says that all children with special needs should be in a mainstream school.

hnews@herald.ie