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 Outdated, institutionalised systems and ways of thinking do not have a place in 21st century Ireland.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 or call 087 2636994

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