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Reilly dithering blocks essential funding to autism services

24 June, 2013 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Reports that Minister for Health, James Reilly, has withheld funding to autism services and approved the release of only one-tenth of available funds, targeted solely at services in his own political back-yard, has elicited a furious reaction from opposition health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD.

The Sinn Féin Dáil Deputy has described the detail of the revelations as “outrageous and discriminatory”.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“That the Minister for Health could announce in January 2012 the allocation of an additional €3m for essential autism services over that and the subsequent two years and then withhold all monies throughout 2012 and approve only €300,000 in 2013 for expenditure on services in his own political heartland, is both outrageous and discriminatory.

“What of the needs of children with autism in other areas of the state, where there is a long identified shortage of speech and language therapists and other service needs? Is Minister Reilly in denial of the essential needs of children with autism outside his own constituency and the general north Dublin area?

“I have repeatedly raised not only the general issue of the needs of children with autism but specific cases including where the young people concerned are fast approaching their eighteenth year. The stress in the lives of parents trying to cope, and against the odds, adds to the shame of a minister who should himself know the challenges, difficulties and trials of families in these situations.

“Minister Reilly should bring his commissioned review to a close and immediately approve the release of the €1.7m yet unspent, to be followed by the third million early in 2014. Excuses won’t wash”, concluded Deputy
Ó Caoláin.

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