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Department of Health 'doesn't have the money' to turn blue for Autism day

James Reilly says it would be too expensive to light his Department’s HQ blue tomorrow to mark Autism Awareness Day.

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is lit up in blue to mark World Autism Day in 2011.
The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is lit up in blue to mark World Autism Day in 2011.
Image: Felipe Dana/AP

HEALTH MINISTER James Reilly has said it would be too expensive to organise the lighting to turn his Department’s headquarters blue tomorrow, to mark a global day raising awareness of autism.

Buildings around the world are to be bathed in blue lighting tomorrow, April 2, to mark International Autism Awareness Day – but the Department of Health’s headquarters in central Dublin will not be among them.

Reilly has said the Department tried last year to turn its Hawkins House headquarters blue to mark the event, but blamed an old lighting system for failing to make the blue hue noticeable to passers-by.

“My Department had an electrician recently install a test lamp on the roof of the building to see if it were possible to improve the lighting,” Reilly said in response to written Dáil questions from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

“Unfortunately the cost of carrying out this project effectively is prohibitive,” he said.

Reilly did not say whether other public buildings would be turning blue for the event, after Adams had asked whether the government would be illuminating any “landmark buildings” for the day.

The prevalence rates for autism have risen tenfold in the last four decades, and it is now estimated that 1 per cent of all people worldwide are on the autistic disorder spectrum, irrespective of whether they have been diagnosed or not.

The Irish Society for Autism is to hold an international conference in Dublin on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, marking its own 50th anniversary as well as the international day.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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