Autism funding for Dublin North based on HSE recommendation, Minister insists

Reilly defends decision over €300,000 funding

Dr James Reilly defends his decision to allocate €300,000 in funding for autism treatments to Beechpark Services.

Dr James Reilly defends his decision to allocate €300,000 in funding for autism treatments to Beechpark Services.

Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 01:00

MARIE O’HALLORAN


Minister for Health James Reilly has defended his decision to allocate €300,000 in funding for autism treatments to Beechpark Services in north Dublin and insisted it was based on a HSE recommendation.

He also said Beechpark, a regional community-based HSE service for Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare was not in his Dublin North constituency.

Following accusations that he favoured his own area to provide funding for five therapist posts, Dr Reilly insisted in the Dáil the “vast, vast bulk” of 29 schools which would benefit were not in his constituency. “They are in schools from Donnycarney, Finglas, Castleknock, Glasnevin, Artane, Clonee, Swords, Fairview, Tyrellstown and many more,” he said.

He also said he would have the results of an independent review he had announced of the Beechpark model “within weeks” and once the outcome was known, the remaining funding would be allocated.


‘Out of the blue’
But Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the “bottom line is you decided to go off and announce that you were going to provide funding an additional €3 million for autism services” and a review, both of which came “out of the blue” to senior officials.

Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said there was an identifiable need for services that “doesn’t require an independent review to highlight it”.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told Dr Reilly the questions being asked “have greater strength given the debacle over the issue of primary care centres in your constituency”. He said: “The question has to be answered Minister, are you the Minister for Health or are you the Minister for North Dublin?”

But Dr Reilly insisted he acted based on a HSE recommendation. He said the report, available on the Department of Health website, offered two options.

Dr Reilly said: “I followed the recommendation of the HSE.”