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Breaking news on the Cross Border Autism Centre

11 January, 2006

Sinn Féin's Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson who has been campaigning for the delivery of the establishment of the Autism Centre of Excellence at Middletown Co. Armagh an initiative launched by Martin Mc Guinness while Education Minister has been given a timeframe for the centre to finally commence.

The project was one which Martin Mc Guinness secured cross party support for through the Cross Border Institutions gained momentum in 2004 when the property and site was purchased jointly be DE and DES.

It was agreed that a comprehensive range of programmes would be put in place to deliver a learning support service, educational assessment service as well as a training and advisory service and an autism research and information service.

Following a lobbying campaign on the back of work carried out by Martin Mc Guinness, Michael Ferguson has been informed that the Œtraining and advisory service‚ should begin later this year. This is news that will be a relief to the families‚ relatives, and Autism spectrum support groups.

Commenting upon the news Michael Ferguson said,

„ This is very welcome news. Centre is expected to deliver a multidisciplinary service including support, research, assessment and training and information to backup local education provision.

Those living and working hard to support the range of needs associated with autism will also welcome this news. The training and advisory service which is the first to become operational is expected to be followed by an educational assessment service and it is also crucial that these efforts are reinforced by the academic and training institutions.

I will be meeting with the Minister for Education Angela Smith to discuss the detail of this breakthrough in the near future.‰

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