Two Galway TDs have demanded that the state provide enough money to keep Galway Autism Partnership open amid a funding crisis.
Speaking in the Dáil this week Galway West TDs Catherine Connolly and Eamon Ó Cuív said the state must provide the funding to keep this essential service running.
GAP have said that despite desperate fundraising efforts it needs another €75,000 to keep the doors open.
The HSE is meeting with GAP today to discuss ways to work with the charity to keep services running.
Previously, Galway Autism Partnership applied for section 39 funding from the HSE and were turned down.
Deputy Connolly said it was interesting that though the charity is not funded by the state 53% of referrals to it are from state funded agencies.
“The HSE and Tusla are referring people to the Galway Autism Partnership while it is trying to survive on a shoestring budget, fund-raising and charity.”
Deputy Ó Cuív said that the clubs, camps, and sporting events put on by GAP are incredibly important social lifelines for children with autism.
“The reality is that the supports needed by parents and their autistic children are not being given,” he said.
“GAP is fulfilling a very important role in providing those services, but it needs money.”
The two deputies suggested that the relatively small figure needed to keep GAP could easily be found in the Dormant Accounts Fund, where there is €150 million currently going unused.
GAP provides essential support for nearly 500 people around Galway city and county, both children with autism and their families.
They don’t provide therapeutic services for people with autism, but rather aim to “bridge the gap” between existing services and the community.
This has become an increasingly essential role, Catherine Connolly said, because “services in Galway for people with autism are simply appalling.”
tarting off as a small online group, Galway Autism Partnership was officially founded in 2011 as a registered charity by a group of parents and adults on the spectrum.
The following year the group was able to purchase the house and garden at Tigh Ronain after a generous donation by Ramona Nicolas on the Secret Millionaire.
Speaking for Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath, Deputy Damien English said that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the Minister to comment on specific funding requests as the HSE’s national service plan for 2019 hasn’t been published.
He added that two reports on autism in Ireland with key heath recommendations had recently been published by the Department and the HSE.
“To be honest, parents do not want studies,” insisted Eamon Ó Cuív, “They just want GAP to continue doing what it does with a small amount of money.”