Education Minister, CaitrÃona Ruane, has said that funding must continue for the Middletown Centre for Autism.
The Minister said she had received a letter from the Minister for Education and Science, Batt Oâ€™Keeffe TD, advising that his department had to review funding for all educational projects and it was not currently possible to enable the capital project to proceed as planned.
Minister Ruane said: â€œI fully appreciate the implications of the current economic climate, but am very disappointed at any potential to delay progress at Middletown as it is in difficult times that support for vulnerable children is paramount.
â€œThe development of Middletown has been discussed at every meeting of the education sectoral North South Ministerial Council meetings since 2002, when both departments committed to develop and jointly fund the project. My department will uphold our commitment and I hope we can jointly restate our support for Middletown.
â€œI have written to Minister Oâ€™Keeffe to emphasise the importance of Middletown to children with autism, their families and the professionals who work with them throughout the island of Ireland.
â€œAlready the staff have provided training for over 700 individuals from the education and health sectors. The development of the capital project has the potential to provide facilities for in depth assessment programmes to enable local service providers to better meet the needs of our most challenged autistic children.
â€œI will be meeting with Minister Oâ€™Keeffe at Middletown and will be pressing for a renewed commitment to the centre to ensure all children on the autistic spectrum can avail of the best treatments possible.â€