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Minister urged to introduce autism training in Northern Ireland schools

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The motion proposed by Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald was last night welcomed by Green Party leader Clare Bailey (pictured)

The motion proposed by Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald was last night welcomed by Green Party leader Clare Bailey (pictured)

The motion proposed by Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald was last night welcomed by Green Party leader Clare Bailey (pictured)

DUP MLA Pam Cameron is calling on Education Minister Peter Weir to introduce mandatory autism training for all teachers and classroom assistants.

Mrs Cameron has tabled a motion on the issue which will be debated in the Assembly on Monday.

"Autism NI's helpline is contacted about education more than any other subject," the South Antrim MLA said last night. "Sufficient support isn't available for children. We are lagging far behind other places. Mandatory training would change things for the better for children, teachers and parents."

Mrs Cameron said that a common problem was that schools "not able to cope with autistic pupils are reducing their timetables".

The Assembly will also debate a Sinn Fein motion on climate emergency. It calls on Agriculture and Environment Minister Edwin Poots, and Economy Minister Diane Dodds, to implement commitments made in the New Decade, New Approach agreement. They include reviewing the Executive's strategies to reduce carbon emissions in respect of the Paris Accord, and introducing a climate change act "to give environmental targets a strong legal underpinning". The motion calls for the establishment of an Independent Environmental Protection Agency to ensure targets are met.

Another objective is "closing down the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme and replacing it with a scheme that cuts carbon emissions effectively".

The motion proposed by Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald was last night welcomed by Green Party leader Clare Bailey.

She said: "Every party made climate commitments in their manifestos. Now is the time to turn that into action. If parties are genuine in their ambitions to address climate breakdown, the necessary legislation must be brought forward.

"There are a few short years until we reach the point of irreparable environmental damage."

Ms Bailey said the five Executive parties had shown their willingness to unite to address the NHS crisis. "Our climate emergency must be dealt with in the same way," she added.

Belfast Telegraph