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Inclusion Ireland research into Progressing Disability Services highlights lack of services for children.

Inclusion Ireland research into Progressing Disability Services highlights lack of services for children.

10th March 2022:

Inclusion Ireland today publishes a research report on the parent experience of Progressing Disability Services for Children and young people. Lack of services was the main issue that emerged from the research which saw responses from over 1000 families across Ireland.

The HSE began reconfiguring disability services for children and young people 11 years ago. The aim was to ensure that children had fair and equitable access to services no matter where they lived. Prior to this model change, there were areas in the country where disability services were very well developed for children and other locations where services were poor or non-existent.

Inclusion Ireland engaged with families through a survey and also developed individual case studies to highlight the experience of children and families.

Some key findings of the survey include:

  • Over 50% of the families of children surveyed are not in receipt of any service. Less than 1/3 of families (28%) were engaging with Progressing disability Services through Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNT).


  • Many parents reported that their child spent a significant time on a waiting list for services. 85% reported that they have waited or continue to wait for more than a year. Of these children; 27% were waiting 2-4 years,16% were waiting 4-6 years and 5% for 6 years or more.


  • 48% of families cited difficulties with communication from the services as one of their top 3 issues with the service. Families describe a lack of clarity in relation to plans and time frames for Progressing Disability Services for Children.


  • 19% of families provided us with detail relating to concerns about quality of service. Examples included the lack of frequency of interventions, difficulties with staffing levels and lack of joined up working with schools or other services.


In addition to the issues identified Inclusion Ireland puts forward 9 recommendations that will offer solutions to the issues faced by children with disabilities and their families. These recommendations include: gathering of comprehensive data on a regional basis to plan more effectively, provision of timely assessments for children,  the provision of early intervention services close to diagnosis, school based supports, timely replacement of staff and better communication with families. Our number one recommendation was around the  urgent development of a comprehensive workforce planning strategy to address the lack of therapists and clinicians in the services.


Derval McDonagh CEO of Inclusion Ireland says: “The high level of response to our survey is indicative of the deep concern that many families feel and needed to express. While this survey cannot represent the totality of the unmet needs in Ireland, it can offer a clear overview of the challenges families face in accessing, navigating and maintaining essential, life changing services for their children. The development of the new Community Disability Network Teams throughout the country presents an opportunity to get things right for children with disabilities and their families”.


She added “Inclusion Ireland recognises and supports the values underpinning the model around fair access to services and family centred care. There is an opportunity with the collection of better data to plan for children by region over time and to work in trusting partnership with families. This can be done if the systemic issues within the services are addressed as a priority by Government and health services. While it remains to be the case that a child only has a right to an assessment but not the right to services, it will be a challenge for children to receive the support that they require. The Disability Act needs to be reviewed, hand in hand with the EPSEN act, to ensure that children’s rights are front and central at all times. It is imperative that children get the support they need early and often in the years where it makes the biggest difference”.

You can download the full report by clicking the below ‘Download PDF’ button.

Media and Human Rights Working Group- Call for Applications

Inclusion Ireland wants to recruit a working group of 6 people with intellectual disabilities who want to speak up about rights and have an interest in the media. The media includes newspapers, radio, television, and social media. you can find an easy to read information here Inclusion Ireland Media and Human Rights Working Group Application 2022

What will the group do?

The group will get training about human rights and how to speak up in the media.

There will be 6-8 meetings during 2022.

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

You will also help to make a guide for journalists about interviewing people with intellectual disabilities.

How to apply for the working group:

You can apply using email to answering the application questions.

Or you can make a video answering the same questions .

Email your application or a video to fiachra@inclusionireland.ie

We may ask you to take part in a Zoom or phone interview

The closing date for applications is 20th March 2022

For more information contact Fiachra – fiachra@inclusionireland.ie – 086 837 3394o


The questions are

1.Tell us about yourself: Name, Age, Phone number, email address and where
you are from.
2. Tell us about how you speak up for yourself or for other people.
3. Tell us about how you work as part of a team or on group projects.
4. If someone asked you to explain what human rights mean to you, what would
you say?
5. What experience do you have of speaking in public or being interviewed for
newspaper, TV, or radio? How did it make you feel if you have done it before?
6. Tell us why you want to take part in this working group.
7. Have you used Zoom to take part in meetings?
8. What support would you need to take part in this working group?
9. Is there anything else you would like to tell us.

you can find an easy to read information here Inclusion Ireland Media and Human Rights Working Group Application 2022

Upholding the human rights of people who have an intellectual disability in Ukraine

Our CEO Derval. wrote to our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney today to explain to him the fears we have for people with an intellectual disability in Ukraine as they experience conflict and war. You will find the letter below. You will also find a letter at the PDF Download button from Inclusion Europe, to Elizabeth Truss MP
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs in the UK asking for help for people with intellectual disabilities too. Inclusion Ireland have also signed a copy of this letter as members of Inclusion Europe.

We made some easy to read information because we know many people are worried about the war and conflict in Ukraine. You can find it here: Easy to Read Information on war and conflict in UKRAINE

We wish for safety and support for everyone in Ukraine



Dear Minister Coveney,

I am writing to you as Minister for Foreign Affairs in my role as CEO of Inclusion Ireland, the National Association for People with an Intellectual Disability.  As advocates, we are asking for urgent attention and assistance to secure the human rights of people who have an intellectual disability in Ukraine in this time of crisis.

We wish to express our solidarity with all those experiencing the frightening situation in the Ukraine, but especially disabled people who often experience the greatest impact during war and conflict. Article 11 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities clearly states that :

States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict.”

The events of recent days have now placed Ukrainian people who have an intellectual disability at grave risk of harm. More than 80,000 children and thousands of adults who have an intellectual disability live in “care institutions” across Ukraine. There are very serious fears that their human rights will not be upheld if the situation escalates further. Right now, many shelters are inaccessible for disabled people, forcing people to shelter in place.

Our colleagues in Inclusion Europe are calling for:

• Securing supplies of daily necessities for people who have an intellectual disability, including essential medicines.

• Civil protection information in easy to read and accessible formats to help people who have an intellectual disability to understand the measures they need to take in dangerous situations including sheltering and ensuring adequate provisions.

• Monitoring of the situation in “care institutions” to ensure people are not abandoned or harmed.

• Specific support through humanitarian organisations for people who have an intellectual disability, whether living in the community or in institutions.

As a member of Inclusion Europe, we echo these calls. We are asking you to please take urgent action in using any channels available to you to keep children and adults with intellectual disabilities in institutions and in the community in Ukraine safe.

Yours sincerely,


Call for a serious rethink around how people with intellectual disabilities are supported.

Inclusion Ireland as a national advocacy organisation calls for serious reflection around how people with intellectual disabilities are supported today. Amid reports of failures to report safeguarding concerns in recent days, it is beyond time for a focus on human rights and there are fundamental questions to be asked about how thousands of people are supported in services across the country.

Inclusion Ireland has repeatedly called for safeguarding legislation which will increase the rigours of reporting obligations in services. This is an essential first step that Government must take. Our fellow citizens with intellectual disabilities who need extra support to live a good life, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect at every turn, all of the time.

Legislation is not enough, however. It is time to question how we view people with intellectual disabilities;  people who are “rights holders”  rather than “receivers” of services.  People with intellectual disabilities, no matter what level of support they might need, must have choice and control about where they live and who they live with. Outdated, institutionalised systems and ways of thinking do not have a place in 21st century Ireland.  The legislation will help and is essential, but our fundamental beliefs about people with intellectual disabilities have to radically change if people are to live a life free from abuse and harm.

Derval McDonagh CEO of Inclusion Ireland says: “It is clear that we need to move on from institutionalisation and institutional thinking which, by its very nature, removes power and choice from people. A person with less power and autonomy is more likely to be abused. That is the harsh reality we must face”.

She added “Amid wider calls for inquiry and learning, we have an opportunity to fundamentally change the way the system works for people with intellectual disabilities. There are many tried and tested ways of supporting people in the 21st century based on human rights principles and led by the person.  The only way to live a life free from abuse is to have choice and control over where you live, who you live with and how you live. These are the freedoms we all take for granted, but are sadly not available for many people with intellectual disabilities today”


for further information contact Communications and Information Manager Julie Helen on julie@inclusionireland.ie or call 087 2636994

Inclusion Ireland Welcomes National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027

14 January 2022 Inclusion Ireland welcomes the publication of the National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027 today.  You will find all the documents here here . It includes Easy to Read Information which we are delighted to see.

Housing and living in the community are very important for people with intellectual disabilities and having a specific strategy to meet the housing needs of disabled people will ensure there is a basis for working towards ending the housing crisis disabled people face.

Following on from the Strategy, we hope that the implementation plan which is due to be published in June 2022, will be concrete and rights based to ensure that the great work of the strategy is reflected in reality.

Inclusion Ireland has been involved in the consultation on the strategy from the beginning and the Department of Housing conducted an inclusive and transparent process which enabled people with intellectual disabilities to have their voices heard. There is an easy to read summary of the strategy available today, at the same time as all other information, so people with intellectual disabilities have equal access to the information and feel part of the process in a meaningful way.

Derval McDonagh CEO of inclusion Ireland says “The strategy includes 6 themes which together cover the key areas of providing housing and supports for disabled people in Ireland. We are particularly encouraged to see that the strategy is rooted in a rights based approach, including the UNCRPD, citing accessibility, affordability and the supports to live in the community. There is an emphasis  on collaboration and working together along with some of the more nuanced aspects of housing like access to communication and information. Now what we need is a concrete implementation plan which will mirror the inclusive process to date and continue to keep disabled people at the centre of the implementation and monitoring of the strategy at local and national level.”

With regard to implementation of the strategy Derval adds “In implementation we need to see timed and costed actions surrounding, those still living in congregated settings, people under 65 who are living in nursing homes, people who are living in family homes with parents who may need support to live in their communities. There needs to be housing options and supports for everyone, no matter what level of support they may need to live the life they wish to lead. You will hear us consistently say at Inclusion Ireland that the right to a home ,whatever the level of support you might happen to need to live there is absolutely critical if we are to fulfil our obligations under the UNCRPD and to value people with intellectual disabilities as equal citizens”.

Ashley Sands, Chairperson of Inclusion Ireland’s Housing Committee says: “Housing is a issue of great importance for people with intellectual disabilities and a strategic priority for Inclusion Ireland. The publication of this strategy today is a very good step in the right direction. We need to see a strong implementation plan to  follow where everyone is included and nobody is left behind. Everyone deserves to live where they want to live with whom they want to live with, along with the supports they need to live the life they choose”


Call for speeches for Self Advocacy Event 03 December

Inclusion Ireland self-advocacy subcommittee are holding an event for International Day for People with Disabilities on 03 December 2021.

We want to hear about your experience. We will have speakers at the event.

We want to hear from self-advocates and family members

If you want to be a speaker during the event, you can send us a speech.

Your speech needs to be about one of these topics:

Choices: How do you make choices at home and outside?


Places: Who are you living with?

Tell us about your community and your neighbours.

Do you live in the city or the countryside? Are you homeless?

Are you on a waiting list for housing?

Money: How did you get your budget?

Do you have control over your own money?

Can you afford things, do you have enough money to live?


Please write on one of the topics. Your speech should not be longer than 4 minutes: maximum a page in Verdana, 12.


You can send your speech by email,

By video, to guillaume@inclusionireland.ie



Or by post to Inclusion Ireland Unit C2, The Steelworks, Foley Street, Dublin 1.

The closing date for sending your speeches is the 22nd November 2021.

Statement: Call for Safeguarding Legislation amid abuse allegations in Donegal.

Date 19 October 2021 Inclusion Ireland would like to reiterate the call of Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte T.D. around the urgent need for safeguarding legislation to be brought through the houses of Oireachtas, passed and enacted without delay considering the recent information around abuse allegations that came to light in Donegal.

The required legislation is currently in the form of the National Safeguarding Bill which was proposed in 2017 and was at 3rd stage in Seanad Eireann in March 2021. The proposed legislation will include the establishment of a National Safeguarding Authority which will act as an independent statutory body to educate about safeguarding people from abuse and investigate any concerns. This safeguarding legislation will make it obligatory for staff in all settings to report any issues around abuse.

The recent revelations of abuse are understandably very worrying for our members, and we want to reassure any family members or indeed people with intellectual disabilities that they can contact inclusion Ireland for support. We can offer advice around how a person (or a family member) can reassure themselves about safeguarding policy implementation in their service.  There must be open and transparent processes in all services and people must feel empowered and comfortable in speaking up if they feel they need to.

We have three clear messages:

  1. People must feel safe and secure no matter what kind of service or support they receive. Individuals and/or family members must feel empowered and supported to speak up at all times.
  2. Abuse of any kind is completely unacceptable and services must shine a light on abuse in a transparent and timely manner and take swift action when it does occur.
  3. We need Adult Safeguarding legislation without delay including the establishment of the National Safeguarding Authority.


CEO of Inclusion Ireland Derval McDonagh says. “I have written to the Minister with responsibility for Disability, Minister Rabbitte and the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly to urge concerted and quick action on adult safeguarding legislation if we are to ensure that situations like this do not ever happen again. We are also requesting reassurance for individuals and their families across the country that the HSE and funded providers are redoubling their efforts to ensure that every person who is supported by services is safe and protected by robust processes and procedures. We are hearing from family members that they can be fearful of speaking up when they feel there may be a problem. Individuals themselves and their family members should feel empowered and supported to speak up at all times and a culture of openness, transparency and accountability needs to be in services across the country”.


If you need to call Inclusion Ireland you can call us on 01 8559891

Budget 2022 fails to address the systemic changes so badly needed by people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland today


In reaction to Budget 2022 Inclusion Ireland states that Budget 2022 fails to address the systemic changes so badly needed by people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland today

Find east to read information on  Budget  2022 here Budget 2022 Easy to Read 

While it is noted that some positive measures are included in Budget 2022 for people with intellectual disabilities, it is the view of Inclusion Ireland that it does not adequately address the critical issues faced by disabled people today.

From the initial reports-there was some confusion about how much funding was actually allocated to disability. One Minister announced “ 65 million” and another “ 105 million” .  From latest information available it does seem that 105 million has been allocated but it still remains unclear as to how the funding breakdown will work; how much will go towards new developments and services and how much will be allocated to meet current issues in the system.

The Governments own “capacity review “ outlined the significant funding shortfall currently leading to crisis situations for many people with disabilities. 105 million euro is not nearly enough to address this . We need to see a more detailed plan, the breakdown of the 105 million spend and the real life changes the additional funding may enable for people. We are concerned that the additional budget allocation will fund “more of the same” rather than addressing creatively the real-life challenges for people today. We need to move towards multi-annual planning with a clear vision and incremental change ; this is the only way of moving from crisis interventions to rights based supports for people.




Disabled people face a growing crisis in housing. A minimum of 7.2 % of all social housing needs to be ringfenced for those with disabilities. Just as critical as the provision of the house itself is the funding of the supports each individual might require in order to live independently.  A house without the necessary supports to live there is useless! The increase in personal assistance supports of 3 million is welcome but is only a fraction of what is needed. Right now, in the real world, thousands of people with disabilities are living in nursing homes, group homes and with ageing parents with no hope of ever moving into a home of their own. We need to be serious about rectifying this , we need ambitious timelines and a groundswell of government and societal support to address the human rights issues faced by so many people with disabilities today. How much of the 105 million will go towards people moving into homes of their own? How many people will have a new home in 2022 with choice and control about where they live and who they live with? Inclusion Ireladn calls for further detailed plans around the additional budget allocated to address this situation.




One third of people with disabilities in Ireland are at risk of poverty. The cost of having a disability is high. In our pre-budget survey, people cited the numerous additional costs that they have in their life due to disability; extra heating costs, transport costs, housing adaptation costs. Budget 2022 does not include any measures to specially address the cost of disability other than a small increase in fuel allowance and the 5 euro increase in other social welfare payments

The cost of disability needs to be recognised and addressed as a matter of urgency if people with disabilities are to have their rights met.


Children and Education


The announcement 1165 new SNA posts and 1000 more Special Education teachers is welcome. We are also pleased to see that the pupil/teacher ratio is to be reduced(albeit minimally) within classes. This is a step towards more inclusive classrooms, something that Inclusion Ireland has long called for. We look forward to more detail around the “multi-million euro investment” in therapy supports for children and the focus on early intervention across the country. We need more detail operationally before we can make an assessment around the impact of such additional supports .

In relation to higher and further education,  Minister Harris announced €5 million for the roll-out of new access measures, including those for students with intellectual disabilities, we wait for the detail on this information to see what impact it will have on progressing opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.


CEO of Inclusion Ireland – Derval McDonagh says: “While we recognise some important first steps were announced yesterday , we are disappointed that budget 2022 does not go far enough to recognise and address the real life crisis many people with disabilities are facing . We need to focus on deep systemic change and creative solutions if people with disabilities are to be valued as citizens and have their rights met under the United Nations Convention on the rights of people with disabilities.

The harsh reality that 1/3 of people living with a disability are at risk of poverty will remain a fact unless the cost of disability is recognised. The housing crisis people with disabilities have faced for years needs to be addressed and prioritised. People’s lives are depending on it. The right to inclusive education needs to be facilitated with more urgency.

We will continue to support people with disabilities at Inclusion Ireland to have their voices heard, we need our whole community to get behind us as we fight to have peoples’ basic rights met under the UNCRPD. Sadly, while some positive steps were taken in this budget, it does not provide a platform for the radical change that is so badly needed for people.”


Response to the Review of the National Development Plan 2021-2030

06 October 2021 A review of the National Development Plan was originally planned for 2022 but in June 2020 the Government decided to bring it forward to 2021 in light of Covid-19 in order to enable an infrastructure led economy.

This revised National Development Plan sets out the what the government will spend on infrastructure between 2021 and 2030. It incorporates an investment package of 165 billion euro.

There are many plans that have been published in recent months and years which will have an impact on people with intellectual disabilities. At Inclusion Ireland we feel it is important to offer an analysis and summery of the particular aspects of any government plan which relates to people with an intellectual disability and the likely affect it may have on their lives .

According to the plan, the major public investment proposed will play a significant role in addressing the opportunities and challenges faced by the nation in areas such as Covid-19, Brexit, housing, health, climate action and a  growing population, projected to increase by one million people between 2016 and 2040.

Some of the key areas include of the National Development Plan Review include

Social Housing

The Capital Assistance Scheme provides funding to support the development of housing and accommodation for a range of individuals and families including those with an intellectual disability. The NDP includes all of the targets set out by the recently published “Housing for All” in which objective 7 relates specifically to disability.

“Decongregation” and Disability Services

In line with Government policy,  Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the published findings of the regulator HIQA, there is a recognised need to “move on” from “congregated settings” as a  housing model for people with disabilities. There is a planned programme to replace remaining congregated residential settings with appropriate housing in the community.

Aligned to this, work is also being undertaken in relation to people with disabilities inappropriately “placed” in nursing homes.(of which there are 1300 people under the age of 65 meeting this criteria)

Community-based housing is provided in conjunction with the Department of Housing and related agencies.

The NDP makes reference to the Disability Capacity Review and how primary care services and health and allied services should be provided in the community.


the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) 2017-2022 and the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities (CES) 2015-2024, commit to the provision of public transport services that are accessible for all, and especially for persons with disabilities. This includes both investing in older infrastructures as well as the ongoing maintenance of existing facilities, such as lifts and transport fleets. The Department of Transport funds a multi-annual, ring-fenced programme, managed by the NTA, towards meeting these commitments.

Inclusion in Sport

The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) delivered by the Department, supports the development of sports and physical recreation facilities. It focuses on improving female participation and supporting projects utilised by people with a disability and/ or minority groups.

Our CEO states:

The National Development Plan is an important one, affecting the lives of people with disabilities in multiple ways. We are pleased to see mention of housing, transport and inclusive sports as part of the plan. At Inclusion Ireland we are calling for plans to be urgently turned into action and translated into real life, positive change for people. Our members tell us that housing is one of the biggest issues facing people with intellectual disabilities today. For far too long the focus on disability has been narrow and based on “needs and services” rather than rights, citizenship and valuing people.

“We recognise at Inclusion Ireland the need for cross departmental working around issues like housing if people with intellectual disabilities are to have their rights met as equal citizens.  A house without  the supports to live there is useless- we have been calling on government to work on the development of a one stop shop for housing -where the home and the supports to live there come on stream at the same time to enable the person to live and participate in the community. The proposed developments in the NDP will only work for people with intellectual disabilities if their voice is at the centre and government departments(housing, health, justice, social protection) come together in collaboration to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are realised as per our commitments under the UNCRPD.”

You can read the National Development Plan 2021-2030 at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/774e2-national-development-plan-2021-2030/

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