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Dublin: 10°C Saturday 27 February 2021

Reilly criticised and questioned over allocation of autism funding

Minister Reilly said that it was important for deputies to recognise the scale of the work that will be enabled by the investment in Beechpark Services.

Heath Minister Dr James Reilly
Heath Minister Dr James Reilly
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE MINISTER FOR Health, Dr James Reilly, was put under fire today in the Dáil over the allocation of funding for services for children on the autism spectrum.

TDs Billy Kelleher, Caomhghín Ó Caoláin and Richard Boyd Barrett all criticised the news that the first €300,000 of new funding for autism services was allocated to north Dublin, near the Minister’s own constituency.

A report in the Irish Times yesterday said that the funding had been allocated to Beechpark Services, which is located next to his constituency.

The HSE defended the spend today, saying that the funding was allocated on the basis of an agency report into autism services and needs.

There are plans to allocate a further €300,000 of the €3 million to Kildare and Wicklow later this year. Following a review of disability services across the country, another €700,000 in funding for services will be provided.

Deputy Kelleher criticised the fact that “priority” was given “to the north of the Liffey while services elsewhere are under pressure”. He said that children in any part of the country are entitled to equality.

Deputy Boyd Barrett asked what is the criteria for selecting where the money has been allocated, and said that a “suspicion” of “favouritism” for some areas “lingers”.

O Caoláin said that the Irish Times report “raises many questions”, including a question about the minister’s decision-making capacity. He asked why 18 months after the announcement of the funding being made available only 10 per cent of it had been spent.

Minister Reilly thanked the deputies for their concern, and reiterated the findings of the HSE report to explain why the money was allocated to Beechpark. He reiterated the fact that Beechpark Services is not in his own constituency.

He said it is important for deputies to recognise the scale of the work that will be enabled by the investment, and that he has a list of 29 schools where classes needing services for autism will now be put in place as a result of the new posts in Beechmark north.

The Minister also said “the vast, vast bulk” of the posts are in not in schools in his constituency.

Read: HSE defends €300,000 autism spend in Reilly’s political area>

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