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Inclusion Ireland Submission as part of the Review of the EPSEN Act

We have completed our submission as part of the Review of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (ESPEN) Act 2004.


In this submission we highlighted the key points below:


– The EPSEN Act must be reviewed in relation to state commitments under the UNCRPD and then commenced without delay.


– The name and language of the act should be changed to “The Inclusive Education Act”- removing references to “special educational needs” which will then include all children in the state.


– The parts of the EPSEN Act 2004 that give the statutory right for children to have an assessment of their education needs and access to the supports identified in such assessments need to be commenced.


– We are calling for a fully costed, cross government multi-annual Inclusive Education 10-year plan. The journey towards an inclusive education model will require significant additional resources, attitudinal change, fully accessible and flexible school buildings and supported, skilled school staff.


– We are calling for the Disability Act to be reviewed in parallel with the EPSEN act. These two pieces of legislation have to be effective and work together so that children can access their rights.


– We call for specific amendments to the act including additions around rights-based training for educators as well as reference to seclusion and restraint in the Act.

(The need for) Statutory guidance on seclusion and restraint in educational settings.

Seclusion and restraint remains a children’s rights issue that Inclusion Ireland continue to advocate on.

Right now, there are no guidelines or legislation protecting children from these harmful practices, including being secluded on their own or restrained in some way throughout the school day. We know most schools support children in ways that are rights focused, sadly however we do not know the full extent of where children are experiencing restraint or seclusion as there is no data gathered by the Department of Education or the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). The United Nations on the Conventions on the Rights of the Child, UNCRC recently looked at Ireland as a country being monitored in terms of Children’s rights and they called Ireland out on the issue of seclusion and restraint and the need to ban such practices. We are asking questions now around when the Government and the Department of Education will act on this issue?

You can read our notes on ‘(The need for) Statutory guidance on seclusion and restraint in educational settings’ below to see what Inclusion Ireland calls for : 

(The need for) Statutory guidance on seclusion and restraint in educational settings.


Career opportunities – We are recruiting!

DPCN Coordinator – Fixed Term Contract

Disability Participation and Consultation Network (DPCN)

The coordinator will be employed by Inclusion Ireland, the ‘organising member’ of the DPCN.

This is a fixed term contract until December 31st 2023. There may be opportunities to extend the contract, depending on a number of factors.

This role is funded by the Department of Children Equality Disability Integration and Youth through Inclusion Ireland.

The DPCN is a Network of civil society organisations concerned with the rights of disabled people, under Article 4.3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The role of the DPCN, is to support the active engagement and direct consultation of disabled people through their Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) and other disability organisations in the development of legislation and policies. The DPCN is funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY).

Please find below a detailed job description for the role.

Salary: The annual salary for this position will be €40,209

Location: There is flexibility regarding the base for this post. The successful candidate will be required to travel to various locations to fulfil the demands of the post.

Description of Role

The key role of the coordinator will be to lead out on and implement the agreed Operational Plan for 2023.

Specifically, the role will entail:

  • Working closely with the Independent Facilitator in the preparation and organisation of meetings.
  • Reporting to the Steering Group on the progress of the Operational Plan.
  • Developing and implementing initiatives that build members’ capacity to influence legislation and policy.
  • Facilitating communication and the sharing of knowledge, information, and experience amongst members.
  • Organising training and information sessions on themes identified by the members.
  • Reviewing and evaluating events and activities.
  • Working with the DCEIDY to promote the design and implementation of effective consultation models within government departments and statutory agencies.
  • Preparing and disseminating eBulletins to keep the membership updated on policy developments and other relevant issues.
  • Maintaining an ongoing social media presence, overseeing the establishment of a website, and maintaining its content.
  • Preparing progress reports in line with the requirements of the DECIDY.
  • Carrying out any other activities that will meet the overall purpose of this post.

Skills, Knowledge, and Experience Required:

  • A third level qualification in a relevant discipline; e.g. social policy and human rights.
  • Minimum 2 years’ experience in a project coordination role in the NGO sector.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the disability policy, practice, and legislative environment in Ireland.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the barriers inhibiting disabled people’s active participation in policy and decision-making structures.
  • Excellent administration and IT skills including in Microsoft Office suite.
  • Ability to communicate in plain English and produce documents in accessible formats.

Person Specification

  • Commitment to the principles and practice of human rights.
  • Good group work and facilitation skills.
  • A high standard of oral and written communication skills and an ability to build effective relationships and strategic alliances.
  • Flexible, responsive, self-motivated, and positively disposed to supporting the DPCN to achieve its objectives.
  • Capacity to plan, prioritise and to manage multiple demands.

Reporting Relationship:

The DPCN Coordinator will report to Inclusion Ireland’s Community Engagement Manager.

Application Process

Inclusion Ireland is an equal opportunities employer and applications for this position are welcome from people with lived experience of disability. Reasonable accommodations are available on request.

For any further information about this post contact Inclusion Ireland on info@inclusionireland.ie or call us on 01-8559891

Please forward Letter of Application and CV to info@inclusionireland.ie by Thursday 30th March at 5pm. Interviews will be held online in April.

Joint Committee on Disability Matters – March 9th 2023

Inclusion Ireland Opening Statement

Good morning.

My name is Derval McDonagh and I am the Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion Ireland. I would like to sincerely thank the committee for inviting Inclusion Ireland to this session today.

I am joined by my colleague Una Coates who is an advocate and spokesperson for Inclusion Ireland. I will hand over to Una to share her thoughts on advocacy and self-advocacy in a moment.

At Inclusion Ireland, 1/3 of our board have a lived experience of intellectual disability. The directors regularly share their experiences around the challenges of self-advocacy and the lack of understanding around the need for training, mentorship and support so that people can advocate for themselves and also advocate in collective spaces with other disabled people.

The language around advocacy can sometimes be misunderstood. “Self-advocacy” and “self-advocate” are terms that are commonly used within the community of people with an intellectual disability. In 2015 and 2016, Inclusion International undertook a worldwide survey of people with an intellectual disability and wrote a Global Report on Self Advocacy for Inclusion.[1]  In this document they outline what “self-advocacy” means:

Self-advocacy is about having a voice (even when we cannot speak); being listened to and taking control of our own lives. Self-advocacy is about growing our confidence and belief in our abilities. Self-advocacy is about knowing our rights and that we must be included in all parts of community. Self-advocacy is about working together to make change in our communities.[2]

Progressive stages of self advocacy are mapped out from “personal empowerment and building confidence”, through “peer support and self-help”, towards the more collective approach of “advocacy for action”.[3]

Currently Inclusion Ireland and the Independent Living Movement Ireland are working together on developing a guide for the participation of disabled people in HSE services. There has been a lot of learning in working together. A working definition for self-advocacy we agreed recently states that:


We recognise that disabled people (regardless of impairment) often need additional supports in order to build their capacity and confidence. This work is based on identifying individual issues but also specific supports to participate in group discussions with other disabled people or to participate in representative spaces. Self-advocacy not only refers to disabled people being supported to advocate on issues they face as individuals, but also being facilitated to work collectively with other disabled people. It is our shared belief that at the core of effective participation is disabled people working collectively together.


Often when we talk about self-advocacy people assume we are only speaking about people who use verbal language to communicate. We cannot leave people with higher support needs out of the conversation. Some of the best advocates we have ever met are nonverbal, have high support needs and can tell you exactly how they are feeling with one gesture or facial expression.  Advocacy cannot be a solo effort; advocacy is about relationship. Some people with intellectual disabilities may find it challenging to express verbally what they want or need, but can express in many other ways, if there are willing partners who take the time to build that relationship and really listen.

Learning to speak up for yourself is the first step in having control over your life. Too often people with intellectual disabilities have had no control over their lives with decisions big and small being made for them by others.

We know that there are many people with intellectual disabilities throughout the country in situations they did not choose or have any say over.  This includes the 2400 people living in congregated settings, people living in nursing homes and thousands of people living at home with their families with no hope of moving out into a life and a home of their own. At inclusion Ireland when we hear terms like” underrepresented” or “hard to reach” we challenge that kind of thinking. It is society which has created these conditions. People themselves are not hard to reach, we have created the barriers which exclude, ignore, devalue and overlook people.  This exclusion has led to the creation of oppressive systems such as institutional living.

The proper resourcing of advocacy and developing systems where the voice of the person is prioritised is the only way to unpick the years of segregation and institutional thinking.

In the 80’s and 90’s community development projects began to support women to meet in groups and do personal development and assertiveness training. This groundwork started conversations about women’s rights that were very important in advancing gender equality in Ireland.

A similar investment now needs to take place to advance the disability equality and equity agenda. In line with the UNCRPD, the state needs to invest in capacity building supports for advocacy and it needs to support the development of DPOs where disabled people can advocate for changes in policy and practice that will advance these rights in Ireland.

Inclusion Ireland will continue to support people to develop the skills they need to speak up for themselves and to be a part of collective spaces and DPOs. It is only by working together that we will the systemic change so badly needed.

I will now hand you over to Una Coates who will give her part of our opening statement .


My name is Una Coates.

I am the chairperson of Inclusion Ireland’s Self Advocacy Committee.

I am proud to be here as a woman with an intellectual disability to speak up and use my voice.

Ireland ratified the UNCRPD in 2018.

Article 4.3 of UNCRPD talks about consulting with and making sure people with disabilities are involved in decisions that are important to them, including laws and policies

I did a course on self advocacy in 2018. It was the start of my journey in speaking up for myself.

Advocacy is when other people speak on behalf of a group.

Self advocacy is when people speak up for themselves about what is important.

It is powerful to hear people tell their own stories. Only people with intellectual disabilities can tell you what it is like to have their experiences in life.

As a committee, we organise events, we do focus groups to hear what people have to say and we help to make information easy to read.

We take part in consultations too. Our committee has both men and women and we are all the same.

To make informed decisions we need information in a way we understand. We need more easy to read information and videos and for people making laws and policy to understand that we all communicate in different ways.

People can have their voice heard even if they don’t speak, they can use technology or have a communication partner to get their message across. I am lucky I can speak and I will speak for others. We are all equal no matter how much support we need. We all have the same rights.

[1] https://inclusion-international.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Global-report-on-self-advocacy.pdf

[2] Ibid, p.4

[3] Ibid p.15 and 16

Children’s Disability Network Teams: National Staff Census and Workforce Review

Children’s Disability Network Teams: National Staff Census and Workforce Review


Inclusion Ireland have read the national staff census on the Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) which was completed at the end of 2022. The following are some key points of note:

Key statistics

  • There are 91 CDNTs located across 9 Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs)
  • The total number of approved staff (sometimes referred to as “whole time equivalent” or WTE) is 2,102.62.
  • There are 1,395.30 filled posts, of which 1,183.01 are in a therapy / clinical role.
  • There are 707.32 vacancies across the 91 teams.
  • The average vacancy rate nationally is 34%. The vacancy rate ranges from a low of 19% in CHO3 to a high of 43% in CHO8.
  • An analysis of the data from 2021 and 2022 demonstrates an increase of 11% in the number of approved posts for CDNTs- this means the number of posts that the HSE has permission to recruit for.
  • Across the CDNTs vacancy as a result of maternity leave equates to 95.98 staff (71.52 on paid maternity leave and 24.46 on unpaid maternity leave). As maternity leave cover is unfunded it is not custom and practice in many agencies to backfill these vacancies.


How many teams are managed by the HSE and how many  by other agencies?

  • The HSE is the largest employer and manages 41 CDNTs and have 572.94 filled positions and 359.32 vacant positions (932.26 total).
  • There are 18 employers in total across the 91 CDNTs.
  • 73% of staff are employed by statutory (HSE / S38) providers and the remainder employed in section 39 organisations.



  • Staff Census and Workforce Review vacancies include those posts that are vacant as a result of maternity leave, parental leave, sick leave > 3 months etc. that are not backfilled.
  • There were 707.32 WTE vacancies on 12 October (Census Day) and 560.62 posts were in a recruitment process.
  • 81 21% posts were categorised as “at advertisement stage”.
  • 14% of vacancies are unable to fill due to maternity leave, parents leave and sick leave.
  • 17% are in recruitment but we don’t know what stage.
  • 27% are at various stages of recruitment like Interview Pending, Job Offer Accepted (Start Date Agreed), Job Offer Accepted (Awaiting Start Date) Job Offer Accepted (In-Pre Employment) Job Offer, Contract Issued or Interview Complete
  • 5 % Recruitment has not commenced


Inclusion Ireland recommendations:

  1. Recruitment: We welcome the information that 560 posts are currently in recruitment either at advertisement stage or at a later stage in recruitment. We need to see the remaining posts also recruited for.
  2. Workforce planning strategy: Inclusion Ireland have repeatedly called for Government to publish a workforce planning strategy to improve the staffing levels on the CDNTS. We recognise there are issues with supply and it will take time to improve that. Workforce planning is not just about recruitment however, it is also about retention. WE want to see the systemic retention issues addressed as a priority; pay disparity between section 38 and 39 organsiaitons, career progression, staff support. We need to make the CDNTS the best place and most attractive place to work as a therapist. Unless we tackle these issues, staff will continue to leave.
  3. Prioritisation of children: While these very real issues are being worked through, Inclusion Ireland recommends that children who have the most significant needs should be supported and prioritised. These include children with psychosocial disabilities and intellectual disabilities, children without a functioning communication system, children who are out of school due to complex issues. Services should be based on children’s needs not on location i.e. whether a child is in a special school/at home or not.

Joint Committee on Disability Matters – Inclusion Ireland Opening Statement

February 9th 2023

Good morning.

My name is Derval McDonagh and I am the Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion Ireland. I would like to sincerely thank the committee for inviting Inclusion Ireland to this important session today.

I am joined by my colleague Paul Alford who is an advocate and spokesperson for Inclusion Ireland. I will hand over to Paul to share his thoughts on congregated settings and institutional living in a moment.

But first, a brief piece about Inclusion Ireland. We are a national, civil society organisation focused on the rights of people with intellectual disabilities. Our sole purpose is to work towards the full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities by supporting people to have their voices heard and advocating for rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Inclusion is a word which is over-used and misunderstood. It is fundamentally about community, belonging and valuing people for who they are. It is about systematically dismantling the barriers that people face in having a good life. It is not about “fixing” people , it is about fixing systems.  One of the most pervasive systems we have in Ireland today is that of institutionalisation and institutional thinking.

Ireland has a long and sad history of institutionalisation. From workhouses to Magdalene laundries to psychiatric institutions, direct provision centres and congregated settings for disabled people. We have closed many institutions in Ireland in recent years and yet the legacy of institutionalisation lives on for people with intellectual disabilities. Over 2,400 people still live in homes with more than 10 people. We know of institutions where 30 or 40 people live together in a campus style setting.

But institutional living is about much more than numbers of people living together.  Institutional thinking can exist in small houses as well as large. Fundamentally where a person has no choice about where they live, who they live with or how they live, all the hallmarks of an institution are present.

Evidence does suggests however, that a person has much more of a chance of a good life in a smaller, community based home. HIQA’s report in November 2021 stated that “Many residents living in campus-based or congregated settings experienced inequalities in the quality and safety of their services, control over their own lives and their ability to independently exercise their rights and choices”

Institutionalisation is also a way of thinking and acting ,it is a set of values and beliefs which allows us to treat one group of people differently to another. We would never conceive that a non disabled person would have no choice but to live in a house with people they don’t know (or maybe even don’t like) for their entire lives. We would never consider that a non disabled person would have choices about their lives decided by a committee. It is not only people who work in institutions however who think institutionally! Governments and wider society can also behave in ways that enable institutional thinking, practices and beliefs. A prime example of this is the recent issue which came to light about the denial of disability payments. This would never happen to people who could express themselves verbally, who had access to advocacy and support. Denial of rights is much more likely where information is not available to people , where people are removed from the natural rhythms of a good life, connection to community, to friends, to family. The quality of any of our lives is dependent on the quality of our relationships with people who are not paid to be there, with connection and belonging in communities, with being valued as a person.

Institutional thinking allows us to shut one door and open another, repeating cycles of segregation. We close some group homes, but 1300 people under 65 are now living in nursing homes. We must get to the root of institutionalisation and work towards a system of rights based support and care for people. Thankfully ,some people are beginning to really understand this in Ireland and to try and move towards this way of thinking and supporting people. When that kind of support is available to people, the results are truly transformative.

So what needs to change?

A clear articulated vision for community living and a fully costed plan for the next 10 years is one way we can stem the tide of institutionalisation and and support people in rights based ways to live a life of their choosing.  This plan has to also include people living at home with their families right now who should have the right to move into a home of their own. 1500 people with intellectual disabilities are living with primary carers who themselves are over 70 years of age, approximately 485 of whom are over 80. (Figures from the National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers August 2022).  Without a plan, we lurch from crisis to crisis. In some circumstances, a family carer dies, and an emergency response has to be put in place. The “emergency “was entirely predictable. The words “emergency” and “homes for people with intellectual disabilities” should never be put in the same sentence. This type of response leads to further trauma inflicted on the person through needing to move home without any choice, control or transition plan at one of the most difficult times of their lives. This has to change. The Disability Capacity review implementation plan has to be published without any further delay. Otherwise, we will continue to see the same cycles repeated, and the legacy of institutionalisation living on. In all of this thinking, we must include every single disabled person. From people who need intensive support to access their rights (for example people with intellectual disabilities who need enduring and intensive care and support to eat, to drink, to stay healthy) to people who need a small amount of support to go and work and live their lives. Our colleague Angela at Inclusion Ireland recently said “human rights are not transactional”. You do not “get” rights because of what you “contribute” to society in economic terms. You are a rights holder because you are human and deserve respect, love and care. You deserve a world with equal opportunity to a good life, to a home of your own, to your own front door key, to a life that is yours.

I will now hand you over to my colleague Paul who will talk to you about his experience.


Good morning

My name is Paul Alford.

I am an advocate working with Inclusion Ireland for the last 18 years.

I want to tell you about my experience living in institutions and what my life is like now.

From 1983 to 1990 I lived in an institution and we lived in dormitories.

I didn’t have any choice over what to eat and what time I went to bed or got up.

In 1990 I moved to a group home where I shared a room with one other person.

You had to get permission to go out and let them know where you were going.

I worked in a workshop and a shop. The work was hard and the pay was very bad.

Then I worked in a nursing home and I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t properly paid for all the work I was doing.

I talked to FAS about getting a new job. Then I talked to a social worker.

In 2003 the social worker helped me to get a job in Shadow Box theatre company in Bray. It was a FAS job and it was the first time that I got proper wages.

The hours were very long but I really enjoyed the work.

My first holiday that I went on my own was to Australia. The institution I was living in didn’t want me to go.

On August 16th  2005 I started working with Inclusion Ireland. It was my first proper job.

One day I went to a meeting with my CEO at the time.

At the meeting I said that the institution and my family didn’t want me to leave.

We got some help from possibilities plus to find my own place.

It took me 3 years to find a place with support.

In 2008 I moved out to an independent living home . I had to learn how to cook my own meals and do my washing and other things.

It was the first time that I had a room on my own.

I got to choose my own supporter when I moved out.

This was so important to me because until then I never had a choice about who was working with me.

I read all the CVs and then we had interviews. I picked the person that suited me and my life.

It’s not what the staff wants it’s what the person wants themselves.


They’re not here to tell you what to do. I had to learn about that because I was so used to being told what to do.

I think I am still learning about this, years later.

Now I work with Inclusion Ireland. I do a lot of work on easy-to-read information. I also give talks on my life story and I try to help other people.

It’s my life and it’s my choice. I want everyone to have that chance.

Attorney General Publishes Advice and -Inclusion Ireland Response to denial of disability payments

on Tuesday 07th February 2023 Derval McDonagh appeared on Prime Time in response to the advice of the Attorney General that The Department of Health published on the same day.

“While the state,  according to the Attorney General, has no legal obligation to compensate individuals, it is the view of Inclusion Ireland that there is a moral obligation to pay people.

The individuals in question, living in state funded residences from 1983 to 1996 have a right to accessible and clear information about these matters which concern them.

The Attorney General’s comments that the state has to make difficult decisions every day given the limited resources available to it. We would argue that there is an unjust patter  we observe  for individuals who may be non speaking/ non verbal or who potentially need advocacy and significant support to understand their rights.

Article 21 of the UNCRPD is clear on the right to information for disabled people. We are in serious breach of this part of the convention.

Whilst the state had no legal obligation to put a compensation scheme in place, there is a moral imperative to ensure that people ( and their families/advocates where needed) have a full understanding of their rights and what avenues are available to them should they choose to pursue the issue.

You will find the publication here https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/f555a-government-publishes-ag-report-on-nursing-home-charges-and-disabled-persons-maintenance-allowance/

More information below

Friday 03 February

All of our work at Inclusion Ireland is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. This week we learned through Prime Time Investigates  that historically up to 12,000 people were denied their human rights by disability payments being withheld.

Our CEO Derval McDonagh says: “We have heard the government commit that they will do what is “morally right and legally just” in relation to this issue. One person being denied their rights is one too many. People impacted by the denial of payments may not even be aware of the issue because their right to accessible information in a format they can understand has also been denied. At Inclusion Ireland, we will create some accessible information around this issue and make it available widely.  We will also observe the action following the promises of An Taoiseach. We as a society need to acknowledge that everyone has a right to information about issues that impact their life, regardless of whether they are viewed as “vulnerable” by the state or not.  Their perceived “vulnerability” is often because of barriers, we, as a society, have created. We call for the right to information under article 21- Freedom of Expression and Opinion and Access to information of UNCRPD  to be front and central in these discussions.”

You can see the first programme which aired on Tuesday 31st January on the RTE Player at this link  https://www.rte.ie/player/series/prime-time/SI0000000825?epguid=IH10000976-23-0009

You can see the follow up programme from Thursday 02 February at https://www.rte.ie/player/series/prime-time/SI0000000825?epguid=IH10000976-23-0009

We will update this information when we have accessible information created.

Including Children with intellectual disabilities in UNCRC – Ireland goes before the Committee in Geneva this week

Inclusion Ireland has worked with civil society organisations and the Children’s Rights Alliance, to ensure that children with intellectual disabilities will be included in representations to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Committee this week. A delegation from Ireland will present on Tuesday 23rd January and Wednesday 24th of January in Geneva. The Children’s Rights alliance issued an alternative report called “Are we There yet” in which it details the impact on children of the lack of rights and supports in many areas of Irish life. The key areas of concern Inclusion Ireland have for children with intellectual disabilities include:

  1. No representative advocacy for children with intellectual disabilities

 Most children with an intellectual disability in Ireland do not have access to independent advocacy services and supports causing children and their families to struggle to navigate a complex system through health, social care, education and services and supports. Children must engage with multiple teams to access the services they need. There are little to no wrap-around supports which could contribute to the holistic development of each child so they can have their rights upheld. Opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities to participate in decisions and matters that impact on them and have their voices heard are too limited, they are often overlooked and forgotten

  1. Difficulty accessing inclusive education 

 The EPSEN Act 2004 is currently under review, many parts of it have not been commenced and some provisions contained in it go against UNCRPD which Ireland ratified in 2018. Human rights instruments have moved on since 2004 and we must change education to make it fully inclusive for all.

2% of pupils (16.000) are access their education through special schools and special classes. The majority of these pupils have an intellectual disability. In special schools there is no access to career guidance, limited choice of subjects, and often no formal examination or pathway to achieving certification within the framework of the current curriculum. This leads to low expectations as to what can happen after education in terms of further education and training and opportunities for employment.

Many children travel over an hour each morning to go to their special schools, when there are often multiple mainstream schools closer to home. This level of travel can have substantial detrimental effects on both the  physical and mental health of the child.

Children with an intellectual disability are still experiencing seclusion and restraint in school. Children can be secluded from the classroom or restraint, in a number of forms, used at school which precludes children from accessing their right to education. It should be noted the Irish authorities have not yet published long awaited guidelines on seclusion and restraint which will provide much needed direction in the education sector on this important issue.

  1. Lack of children’s therapeutic services

Children are experiencing falling through the cracks due to lack of access to mental health services for children with an intellectual disability. The level of Mental Health Intellectual Disability (MHID) services remains at 33% for Adults and 12% for Children and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH-ID) of what was envisaged by the previous mental health strategy “A vision for change”

Children also experience a severe lack of therapeutic services Inclusion Ireland conducted a Parent survey with more than 1000 families and  found:

  • Over 50% of the families of children surveyed are not in receipt of any service.
  • Many parents reported that their child spent a significant time on a waiting list for services. 85% wait for more than a year.

Tamara Byrne, self advocate and youth affairs spokesperson for Inclusion Ireland says; “For a long time adults with intellectual disabilities didn’t have their voice heard. People thought we couldn’t speak up. People often think that about young people too but they deserve to have access to advocacy, inclusive education and therapeutic supports so they can have the same rights as everyone else and be the best they can be”.

For further information contact Communications and Information Manager Julie Helen at 086 2636994 or julie@inclusionireland.ie 

Report on Communication as a human right: Having your voice heard through Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)

Inclusion Ireland are delighted to launch a report on Communication as a human right: Having your voice heard through Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). The report follows a  seminar on Alternative and Augmentative Communication, held in partnership with Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists which was led by AAC users themselves.  The seminar celebrated the ways in which people communicate other than speaking, through their gestures, signs, eyes and technology.

You can access the full report here: Report on Alternative and Augmentative Communication Seminar October 19th 2022

In the spirit of AAC and supporting people to communicate in the way that they choose, we have also created a summary video which you can watch here.

Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) users, experts and policy makers explored the pathway to ensuring everyone’s communication is valued and everyone gets the support they need to access their rights. This included examining good practice, barriers to AAC and putting forward recommendations to improve access and use of AAC in Ireland. The event was also attended by representatives from the HSE and the National Council for Special Education, bringing together the policy and practice in our education and health sectors:

The recommendation included actions around the areas of:

  • Collaboration between the sectors of Health and Education
  • Policy and Guidance Development
  • Resources to improve Access to AAC
  • Funding Pathways of AAC
  • Culture and Attitudes around ACC throughout the lifespan of the user
  • Training in and Knowledge of AAC
  • Representation and Visibility of AAC users

Importantly at the seminar AAC user Aisling Mason quite simply said: “My AAC reader lets me live the life I want to live”

This report captures the positive stories of AAC, the barriers to AAC, and the solutions to making it more widely accessible, available and accepted by all.

Derval McDonagh CEO of Inclusion Ireland says; People have a right to communicate in the way that suits them best. We must honour and value the use of AAC just as we value when people use speech to speak up. Our voice goes beyond speech and AAC shows us this. We commit to following up on all of the actions we outline in this report and to continue to work alongside AAC users to advocate for change until every person who needs AAC has access to it, with the support they need to be heard”.

Inclusion Ireland Employment and Human Rights Working Group 2023

Inclusion Ireland wants to recruit a working group of 6 people with intellectual disabilities who want to speak up about the right to employment.

The right to employment means to get a job but also to be supported at work, be treated with respect, and have the opportunity to progress in your career.

The group will get training about employment rights and advocacy.

There will be 6-8 meetings during 2023.

Some meetings will be on zoom, and some will be in-person events.

You will also help to make a guide to inclusive employment for employers, videos and podcasts.

You can read the Easy to Read Flyer here: IHREC Project 2023 Flyer

How to apply

You can answer the questions in this Easy to Read Document by email: Employment and Human Rights Working Group 2023 Application

Or you can make a video where you answer the questions.

Email your completed application form or video to fiachra@inclusionireland.ie .

We may ask you to take part in a Zoom interview.

The closing date for applications is Sunday the 11th of December 2022.


For more information contact Fiachra

fiachra@inclusionireland.ie – 086 837 3394


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