Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe has confirmed that the Government cannot provide funds for the next phase in the development of an all-Ireland centre for autism in Co Armagh.

Mr O'Keeffe and his Northern Ireland counterpart, Caitríona Ruane, held a meeting at the project site today.

In 2002, after the first power-sharing administration at Stormont was established, the Government and Northern Ireland's Executive agreed to set up the centre.

The plan was to provide assessment and other services for children and other young people with autism from all parts of the island.

In the years since, staff were recruited, although progress stalled during some of the periods of instability at Stormont.

So far the two administrations have each invested around £3.5m (€4m).

The next phase would include building work to accommodate up to 20 children and family members.