Inclusion Ireland Urges Immediate Action in Response to Concerning Ombudsman Report on Children with Intellectual Disabilities

Tuesday 5th of September 2023

Inclusion Ireland were saddened, shocked but not surprised to read the ‘Nowhere to Turn’ report released by the Ombudsman for Children today.

The report details the harrowing circumstances where children with intellectual disabilities and their families are left with nowhere to turn other than admitting their child to hospital when they need support. The stories in the report speak of children being ‘medicated’ or chemically restrained and children spending months in a ward in hospital even though they have no medical reason to be there. This is an abject failure on behalf of the state to plan for children’s futures.

Derval McDonagh, CEO of Inclusion Ireland states:

‘Sadly, this has been happening for years. In 2023, it is a stain on our country that children with intellectual disabilities have to go through this trauma, especially when their families have cried out for help, often for years.

Many of these children cannot rely on speech to communicate and need support in all aspects of their daily life. This does not make them any less of a child – although their treatment is dehumanising. Band aid solutions are not the way forward, they might provide some support in the short term but do nothing to support the child in the long term to have a decent quality of life as part of a supported loving family.

The only solution is a careful plan with each child and family that takes into consideration their unique circumstances and needs. Planning with children and families needs to happen as early as possible, with tailor-made solutions for each child. Sadly in the system we have currently, we continue to lurch from crisis to crisis landing to emergency responses which cannot by their nature focus on the rights and dignity of the child.’

Where is the child’s voice in all of this? We are calling on Government to publish, in advance of the budget, the Disability Capacity Review Action Plan. This at least goes some way towards beginning the process of planning with people over time, rather than fire fighting. We have to do better by these children.

Inclusion Ireland will write to the various Ministers and the HSE today again and highlight our call for immediate, urgent action. We will also push for the development of a children’s advocacy service, children must be supported to have their voices heard.

The full report ‘Nowhere to Turn’ is available on the Ombudsman for Children website at this link:

For further information, contact Caoimhe Suipéil, Communications Officer, Inclusion Ireland at 086-2265813 or 

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