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Northern Ireland - Joint autism fund resumed

Plans for an all-Ireland residential centre for children with autism are back on track, after the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) pledged to restore funding.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen halted funding for Armagh's Middletown Autism Centre in May due to a shortage of cash. But his pledge was renewed following a meeting of the NorthSouth Ministerial Council in Limavady.

Education departments in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic have been equally financing the project since 2002 and #163;6 million has been spent.

Caitriona Ruane, Education Minister in Northern Ireland, welcomed the announcement and said that Middletown Autism Centre would be dedicated to improving and enriching the educational opportunities of children and young people with autism.

"A new phased multi-annual plan for the future development of the centre will be developed in conjunction with the board and will take account of international best practice and the development of autism services on the island of Ireland since the centre was established," she said. mr.

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