Include everyone in the post-crash Ireland

Inclusion Ireland, as the largest national organisation representing people with an intellectual disability, knows the effect of cutbacks and the economic downturn on people with intellectual disabilities and their families. By Siobhan Kane


At a time when people with intellectual disabilities are still deemed ‘lunatics’ under Irish law, and there is no independent inspection of disability services, little if any time has been given over to disability issues in this 2011 General Election Campaign. The Disability Strategy is still often quoted as proof of the former Government’s commitment to people with disabilities, despite the fact that key sections have not been implemented and are instead deferred indefinitely.

 Inclusion Ireland is calling on all political parties to commit to six basic priorities on disability issues. All political parties, be they on opposition or Government benches, have a duty to promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities. The below priorities provide for key rights for people with intellectual disabilities as Irish citizens and must be taken on board by all candidates as a key component of any future Programme for Government.

 NO MORE CUTS: No further cuts to Education and Social Welfare supports. No further cuts to Frontline Services people receive such as respite services. All of these areas have seen cutbacks since 2007. This has led to hardship on people with disabilities and their families;

STANDARDS & INSPECTION: There is currently no inspection of disability services for children and adults. Services must be inspected against standards developed by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA);

 MODERN CAPACITY LEGISLATION: Ireland’s current law on decision-making (capacity) dates back to 1871. Modern capacity legislation that provides for supported decision-making must be introduced. This will allow for the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

 PUT AN END TO INSTITUTIONS: 4,000 people with disabilities live in institutions, many in substandard conditions. The HSE Report on Congregated Settings must be published and an implementation plan on closing these institutions drawn up;

 DIRECT FUNDING: A commitment to the recommendations of the Value for Money Review of Disability Services. This will involve a move towards individualised funding and give people with disabilities and their families more choice and control over what services they receive;

 NATIONAL DISABILITY STRATEGY: Key parts of the 2004 National Disability Strategy (NDS) have been halted indefinitely. The NDS includes the right to an assessment for children aged 6-18 and for adults. There must be a commitment to full implementation of the NDS, in line with the agreed ‘NDS Recession Implementation Plan’

Inclusion Ireland, which is the national association for people with an intellectual disability, is celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2011. Having been founded in 1961 as namhi (National Association for the Mentally Handicapped of Ireland), Inclusion Ireland changed name in 2005 to reflect a change from an out of date acronym and concept, to reflect the strides taken in society towards inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Inclusion Ireland works to promote the rights of people with intellectual disabilities. Our vision is that of people with an intellectual disability living and participating in the community with equal rights as citizens, to live the life of their choice to their fullest potential. Our mission is to be the independent champion of people with an intellectual disability and to ensure that people with an intellectual disability have their voices heard, are not isolated or segregated and can lead more independent and healthier lives. Chief executive is Deirdre Carroll and this article was prepared by communications manager, Siobhan Kane.