02 April, 2021 - Appointment of Chairperson and Directors to the board of the Middletown Centre for Autism (MCA)

As part of World Autism Awareness Day, the Minister for State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD has today announced the appointment of a new Chairperson and 4 new Directors to the Board of the Middletown Centre for Autism (MCA).

The Middletown Centre for Autism is a jointly funded initiative established as part of a range of education initiatives arising from the Belfast Agreement reflecting the commitment by both the Department of Education and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland to enhancing educational services on an all-island basis.

The centre provides a comprehensive nationwide training service for Autistic students, their parents and educational professionals. The centre has delivered training to over 130,000 parents and professionals across the island of Ireland since its commencement in 2007.

The Department of Education appointments are as follows:

Chairperson – Rosemary Steen

Directors – Maureen Costello, Dervla Tierney, Jim Mulkerrins and John Murphy


The Department of Education in Northern Ireland has also appointed a new Vice-Chairperson, two new Directors and re-appointed two existing directors.

Speaking today, Minister Madigan said: “I am grateful to the new Chairperson and Directors for accepting this challenging role and I wish them all well in their important work overseeing the work of the centre in the coming years.

“Today is World Autism Awareness Day, an opportunity to celebrate the autism community and resolve to tackle the challenges that still exist in this area. Across the country, so many wonderful individuals and organisations in the autism community are working to build a truly inclusive society in Ireland. I want to pay tribute to all of them. Let us renew our commitment to that goal today.

“As Chairperson, Rosemary Steen brings a wealth of experience, interest and knowledge both from her career in the telecommunications, utilities and corporate sectors and her founding role and previous board experience with AsIAm. She will be supported in her role by four new Directors, who together bring considerable expertise to the new board.

“In the last 14 years the centre has become recognised across the island and internationally as a centre of excellence, whose services and supports enhance the lives of autistic children through the delivery of specialist educational services.

“The centre is an excellent example of cross border cooperation. It has proven to be a very useful forum in the exchange of good ideas and shared experiences on both sides of the border which has ultimately proven to be of benefit to autistic children, their families, and their wider school communities.

“I encourage all parents and professionals to visit the centre’s website and to take a closer look at the training and resources available. I also encourage them to register to attend the centre’s upcoming  international conference, themed ‘Evolving Perspectives: Autistic thinking in a changed world’ which will take place online on 23-34 April 2021 offering keynote presentations, workshops and live Q&A sessions.”




Notes to Editors

Middletown Centre for Autism was established as part of a range of education policy initiatives arising from the Good Friday Agreement. The Centre was opened in March 2007 to deliver educational services on an all-island basis for children with autism, their parents and families and the education professionals who work with them.

The centre is established under the Companies (Northern Ireland) Orders 1986 to 1990 as a company limited by guarantee. The objects of the centre are set out in Section 3 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Both the Minister of Education and the Minister for Education are accountable to their respective legislatures for the activities and performance of the Centre.

Operational management is provided through the Senior Management Team (SMT) (comprising of the Chief Executive, Mr Gary Cooper OBE, the Head of Research and Development, Dr Fiona McCaffrey, the Head of Learning Support and Assessment, Mrs Lorraine Scott and the Head of Corporate Services, Mr Jim Lennon which usually meets each fortnight. 



Directors of the Board are paid a daily rate of Stg£160 (or Euro equivalent).  The Chairperson will be paid a daily rate of Stg£230 (or Euro equivalent).  Travel and subsistence allowances may be claimed in accordance with Government guidelines.

Anticipated time commitment if 1-2 days per month for Directors and 2-3 days per month for Chairperson.


Appointment Process

The Department of Education and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland each make 5 appointments to the Board with the appointment of the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson rotating between the two jurisdictions.

The Department of Education completed a recruitment campaign for the appointment of new board of directors of the Middletown Centre for Autism Ltd (MCAL).

The Department, in exercise of the powers by Article 24.1 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Middletown Centre for Autism Ltd, has now formally appointed the Chairperson and 4 new directors to the Board.

The appointments to the new board will run for three years.