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 Header Item Autism Support Services: Motion [Private Members] (Continued)
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2019: Message from Select Committee

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire: Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire] Those are voluntary efforts, however. The Government needs to step forward and show the same initiative as those voluntary organisations. That is what we need and that is what this motion is calling for.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Gabhaim buíochas le mo chomhghleacaithe, na Teachtaí Funchion agus Ó Caoláin faoin rún seo chun comhairle a éileamh ar an Rialtas. We have heard many stories from people recounting their experiences of children and adults with autism. We have heard much support for the motion. I also listened to the Minister of State and his comments on what the Government is doing and how it is supporting this motion. It was disingenuous, however, to stand up, deliver a ten-minute speech and leave out the two lines which indicate the position of the Government on this issue. The Government is not going to legislate and is not going to set up a committee. Children with autism are literal. When they hear the Government is supporting this motion, they expect it to follow through, establish the committee and legislate.

It is a terrible slight on them and their parents. We have heard about the slog, the difficulty, the challenges and the fighting required all of the time to get different services. We have also heard of the anxiety and worry waiting for an assessment and what the results will show, then follows the repeated fight for resources for therapies and access to all of the different supports that should be there to help. It is a case of fighting the system, however, rather than being comforted by it. One issue the Government has not acknowledged is that the current system is failing children in myriad ways. I refer to delays in assessment, the lack of supports available, the lack of educational supports and the lack of available places. All of that is failing children. The motion seeks something simple. It asks that we get together as legislators who want to see, recognise and value the unique way in which children and adults with autism see this world. Let us come together and develop a strategy and let us underpin it with legislation. The Minister of State should do the right thing and support the motion tabled by Deputies Funchion and Ó Caoláin. It deserves the support of all of us in this House.

Deputy Kathleen Funchion: Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion I thank all colleagues, from my party and the other parties, for their support, comments and personal stories. I refer to Deputy Eamon Ryan, in particular, for his personal insight. I thank everyone who told their own story. As can be seen, we all know the situation. Everything is a battle. I refer to everything from before getting a diagnosis, to securing school places and occupational therapy all the way through to becoming an adult and trying to transition into adult services where there is a lack of respite and day services. The list is endless and the battle is constant for parents.

Whether the Government decides to support the motion or sit on the fence, we know we have the support of the majority of Deputies in this House. We will call a vote if we have to and we are not giving up on this issue. I appeal to the Ceann Comhairle. We have majority support and we will ask him to set up the all-party committee. I believe that is within the remit of the Ceann Comhairle and we have always found him to be fair and reasonable. We appeal to him to support that as we have the majority. I state that because the committee is needed to develop a strategy. We do not have one and we need one. All these problems are not going to go away. The important thing about the all-party committee is that it will deal directly with people with autism, parents and advocacy groups. All of the people watching from the Public Gallery will have an input. That is crucial.

My colleague mentioned some of the groups earlier but I want to also briefly mention Enough is Enough, particularly Linda and Vanessa, for the work done and their input into the motion. I thank them for the support and advice they give me. I also want to mention one of the first cases I ever dealt with. I will not mention the name, but his parents will know who I am talking about. He is an amazing, fantastic teenager failed repeatedly by this State who has not had the opportunity to finish his education. The responsibility for that lies at the door of the Government. We are not giving up on this issue. I want to make that clear. We are going to keep fighting until we get the committee and that strategy.

Finally, behind the scenes in all of this are staff who worked hard in helping to draft the motion and deal with people like me. I thank Dee, Avril, Kaniah and Michael for all their work on this issue. I again sincerely thank those in the Public Gallery. I reiterate our commitment to them. This is just the start.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl While it would be inappropriate for me to enter into the debate on a matter like this, it would be appropriate to state that the House has reason to be grateful to Deputies Funchion and Ó Caoláin for bringing a motion on this particularly important matter before it on World Autism Awareness Day. I also acknowledge that there seems to be unanimity on this matter. While there may be some difference in nuances, we can all work together to try to find a way forward.

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2019: Message from Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Select Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimate for public services for the service of the year ending 31 December 2019: Vote 30.

  The Dáil adjourned at 9.45 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 3 April 2019.

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