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Extra €300k for autism spent in Reilly area

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Minister For Health James Reilly. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Minister For Health James Reilly. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Minister For Health James Reilly. Photo: Steve Humphreys

MINISTER James Reilly claims he was following a HSE recommendation when €300,000 of autism funding was spent in his own Dublin constituency.

Fianna Fail has called on the minister to make a "full and frank" statement after it emerged all extra funding for autism has so far gone to north Dublin.

In January, 2012, Dr Reilly, who has an autistic son, announced an additional €3m funding for children with autism.

 

The money allocated in north Dublin is being used to fill five speech and language, psychology and occupational therapy posts at the HSE's therapeutic unit for children with autism at Beechpark Services.

The minister decided not to allocate the remaining €700,000 which was earmarked by the HSE for early intervention services for children with special needs throughout the country – pending the outcome of a review he ordered into spending on autism services generally.

A spokesman for the minister told the Herald: "The minister is acting in concert with the recommendation of the HSE."

He pointed out that in April of 2012, a HSE report recommended that €300,000 be spent on the north side of the city in 2012, followed by additional funding for the south and west of the city in 2013.

"In fact, the €300,0000 – to provide for five posts in Beechpark north –will be made available this year," the spokesperson said.

"A range of factors delayed the implementation of posts last year.

"The specific posts that have been approved for Beechpark under this funding are to provide services for the entire north side of Dublin where there is a clear need for enhanced services with a large population with growing numbers of children.

"A review on further spending for such services is being carried out under the chairmanship of James O'Grady, formerly of the the Board of the National Council for Special Education."

It is understood the review will be completed within weeks.

Mr Reilly has long been interested in the condition and was involved in setting up the Beechpark service as a member of the old Eastern Health Board.

He has an adult son with autism, Jamie, who was not a client of Beechpark.

Jamie (26) told earlier this month how he could not speak until the age of three and was assessed as having an IQ in the mentally handicapped range.

He has just completed his Masters in biotechnology in Queen's University in Belfast and starts a PhD in genetics at NUI Galway in September.

mlavery@herald.ie


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