Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Progress on Middletown Centre For Autism only as a result of pressure

1 September, 2004

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Newry Armagh MLA Davy Hyland has welcomed the news that the former St Josephs Adolescent School in Middletown County Armagh has finally been purchased to allow for progress on building the new All Ireland Centre of Excellence For Autism but added that this has only come about as a result of sustained pressure.

Mr Hyland said:

"This Centre will be dedicated to improving and enriching the educational opportunities of children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and it is an eagerly awaited and much needed provision. We now need to see a genuine consultation process to support the development of the services to be provided by the Centre and to ensure that it meets the needs of people the length and breadth of Ireland.

"Sinn Féin have raised concerns about the ongoing delays that have dogged the purchase of this site directly here in the North and through party colleagues in Leinster House.

"It is clear that delays in the rolling out agreed All Ireland projects is politically motivated. British direct rule ministers are guilty of wilfully ignoring the North/South dimension of governance that is inherent in the Good Friday Agreement. They have failed to develop a programme of work in co-ordination with their southern partners. In doing this they are failing to deliver efficiency and cost effectiveness savings that could come from harmonisation.

"The successful implementation and expansion of the All Ireland Agenda can bring people both new and innovative services and better access to services. It is vital that both the British government and Irish governments live up to their commitments to deliver on the existing All Ireland Programme of work as outlined in the Common Chapter. It is also vital that the British government in particular face down the permanent government at the NIO in Stormont Castle. ENDS

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