Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Irish government failing families caring for children with autism

23 June, 2005

Sinn Féin MEPs Mary Lou McDonald and Bairbre de Brún along with party health spokespersons Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD and John O'Dowd MLA joined forces with autism campaigners to demand greater support for families caring for children with autism today.

Campaigners and autism support groups from across Ireland travelled to the European Parliament in Brussels at the invitation of Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald. A total of twenty four delegate representing ten autism NGO's made the trip, including representatives from the North East Autism Support Group, Dochas, ICARE, PEAT (Parents Education as Autism Therapists), Irish Society for Autism, Grá, Laois Offaly Families with Autism, Parents and Professional and Autism (PAPA), European Disability Forum and HOPE.

Campaigners met with a representative from the European Commission and with a number of Irish MEPs.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Today's discussions with the autism campaigners followed a depressingly clear pattern. All told stories about state neglect, lack of support and woefully inadequate provision of essential services. It is apparent that the Irish government is failing those families who are caring for children with autism. The situation in the 6 Counties is equally bleak. The fact that twenty four delegates have travelled from Ireland to seek support from the European Parliament is a clear indication that they are receiving inadequate support at home.

"The Irish government has a fundamental responsibility to ensure support and the provision of services, yet the state has no adequate autism-specific facilities. The All-Ireland Autism centre was declared open in September 2004, yet continues to lie unused in Middletown, Co Armagh because of administration problems. Does this represent the level of British and Irish commitment to the issue of autism?"ENDS

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