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Bitter disappointment at inertia on Middletown Autism Centre

23 November, 2005

Sinn Fein's Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson has said that he is bitterly disappointed with the inertia exhibited by the Department of Education and equally the Department of Education and Science in respect to the Special Needs Provision promised at Middletown Co. Armagh.

There are currently 12.606 children Statemented with Special Needs whose needs are not being adequately met as a result of the current Direct Rule Administration. The development of the School of Excellence at Middletown was initiated by Martin Mc Guinness former Minister for Education and through the North South Ministerial Council secured the Dublin Government's commitment to develop the All Ireland project. There are also another 50.548 children on stages 1-5 of the Statementing process.

Commenting upon the situation Michael Ferguson said,

"We here much about falling rolls from the British Government but we hear little about the increasing number of special needs children and the central importance of delivering the Middletown All Ireland School of Excellence for Special Needs.

"We have 12.606 children with Statemented need and another 50.548 between stages 1-5 and the new Special Educational Needs Order and yet inertia seems to be the only order of the day.

"It is essential that the Middletown Special Needs Centre is opened and the coordination and delivery of services that these children and young people are entitled to is realised. It is now almost five years since Sinn Fein's Minister initiated this project and as we speak there is 30 children in one class in West Belfast 17 of who have special needs needed support and investment not inertia and under funding." ENDS

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