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Cross-border delegation meet to discuss Autism Act

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 04:30 PM

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In this post Deputy Michael McCarthy writes about his Autism Bill

A recent survey by Irish Autism Action found that for every person diagnosed with autism in Ireland, five people are affected.

That means that around 300,000 people in Ireland are affected everyday directly or indirectly by the condition.

The Autism Bill, which I pioneered in March, is an historic opportunity for the Government to effect positive change in the lives of these people.

However, for it to be effective, we must learn from other jurisdictions where autism-specific legislation is already in place.

That is why today, along with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, I was delighted to welcome a cross-border delegation at Government Buildings to discuss the Autism Act, which passed in Northern Ireland in 2011.

Among those present were Dominic Bradley MLA, who sponsored the Autism Bill in Stormont, and Arlene Cassidy, CEO of Autism NI, who has championed the campaign for autism-specific legislation there since 2001. Pat Matthews, CEO of Irish Society for Autism, who I have worked extensively with to date, also attended the meeting.

Together we had a robust and constructive discussion on various aspects of the legislation and teased out arguments that will assist the Republic’s Autism Bill as it progresses to Committee Stage in the Oireachtas soon.

I was delighted to once again receive the full support of the Tánaiste on this issue. This is the kind of social change the Labour Party has pioneered since its inception 100 years ago and I look forward to progressing the Bill in that context in the coming year.

By Deputy Michael McCarthy

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