Irish Government cut to Autism Centre disgraceful – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health & Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has learned that the Irish Government is cutting promised funding for the All-Ireland Centre of Excellence for Autism at Middletown, Co. Armagh. Deputy Ó Caoláin:
“The Minister for Education and Science Batt O’Keeffe has written to the Minister for Education in the Six Counties, Caitríona Ruane, to state that the Irish government is cutting promised funding for the All-Ireland Centre of Excellence for Autism at Middletown, Co. Armagh. This is a disgraceful decision.
“Minister O’Keeffe’s Department and the Department of Health & Children will not now be providing the promised funding required to expand the Middletown Centre as had been intended this year.
“In January of this year I was a member of a cross-party Oireachtas delegation which visited Middletown and saw the excellent work being done by the Centre. I proposed that visit. The Centre itself was initiated by Martin McGuinness during his term as Education Minister in the Executive and from the beginning I have pressed for its development which finally came to fruition.
“The Centre, as acknowledged by Minister O’Keeffe, is working for the development and harmonisation of education and associated services for children and young people throughout Ireland with autistic spectrum disorder. It delivers training programmes and commissions research. The Centre is dedicated to improving and enriching the educational opportunities of children and young people with autism.
“While Minister O’Keeffe states that the Irish Government is not withdrawing all funding from Middletown, this is effectively a cut as the funding necessary for expansion is not now to be allocated. I will be urging Minister O’Keeffe not to proceed with this cut.” Críoch