Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Concern that lip service being paid to development of Middletown all-Ireland Autism Centre

16 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson and Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD have said that the answer they received from Minister for Education and Science Mary Hanafin TD in relation to the Middletown Centre for Autism in Co Armagh is welcome but insufficient and evidence that little more than lip service is being given to the Centre's development.

Commenting upon the issue Michael Ferguson said:

"While I await a date for consultation with both government departments it is the case that the answer given to me colleague on the floor of the Dail was vague to say the least. Mary Hanafin TD and Minister for Education and Science in the 26 Counties merely responded by saying that she had discussed the matter with Angela Smith the Direct Rule Minister, which amounts to nothing.

"We have 12,606 Statemented Special Needs children and another 50,548 on stages 1-5 of the assessment process and that is only in the Six Counties. Martin McGuinness when Minister initiated this Autism Centre at Middletown and had the Assembly still been in operation I am confident that we would be supporting the children of Ireland in a more professional fashion.

"I have asked both Governments for sit-down briefings and on behalf of the many parents of special needs children and young people and these children themselves we need more evidence of action and less lip service."

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