News & Media

Government must deliver on Empowerment Strategy as they accept Labour Autism motion

29 April 2021

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health and Disability Services

Responding to the government’s acceptance, unamended of Labour’s motion being debated tonight in the Dáil from 6pm, calling for a National Autism Empowerment Strategy by the end of July, Labour Leader Alan Kelly said:

“Labour tabled this motion to send a message to our autistic citizens and their families that they are valued, that they belong and that they have a wonderful contribution to make to Irish society. And that the manner in which the State has been treating them has been wrong, and that it will change. It is time for change.

“We understand that the Government are not going to oppose our motion this evening, which we welcome, and we welcome that by accepting this motion, the government are committing to putting in place the National Autism Empowerment Strategy by the end of July, which is what the motion calls for.

“We also take from the Government agreeing to this motion that they are now committing to establishing an Irish Autism Advisory Council. In the Minister’s response, I want her to confirm those things. Because if the Government accepts this motion this evening, but fails to implement the National Autism Empowerment Strategy, or fails to establish an Irish Autism Advisory Council, the Government will be failing our autistic citizens once again.

“By accepting this motion, the government are also finally admitting that they have failed autistic families by the waiting lists that are too long, and they are also admitting that the internal Department of Health report on the compilation of dossiers on autistic children was unacceptable, and we look forward to the Government shortly initiating a new independent review which is commissioned by a body other than the Department of Health, as the motion calls for.

“The Labour Party welcomes this admission of failure by the Government, as I am sure do the families of all autistic people across the country, because it is nothing short of the truth. We all know that they deserve far better than what they have experienced up to now.”

Speaking during the debate, Deputy Kelly also highlighted stories from families across Ireland who shared their experiences and difficulties.