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					                                           Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

Ireland – ANED Country profile


The information contained on this page was updated in December 2011 and is also
maintained by our country team.

Name: Conor Newman
Address: Centre for Disability Law and Policy, National University of Ireland, Galway.

E-mail: info.cdlp@nuigalway.ie
Website: www.nuigalway.ie/cdlp

The full text can be downloaded here.

Disabled people’s organisations

The national assembly representing disabled people’s organisations is:

Inclusion Ireland provides a forum for its members to identify priorities and formulate
nationally agreed policies to present to government, statutory bodies, and other
relevant groups, as well as the general public. Inclusion Ireland campaigns for
changes in services and legislation that will improve the quality of life and the
participation of people with an intellectual disability in Irish society.

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) is the national support organisation for
voluntary disability organisations in Ireland who provide services to people with
disabilities and disabling conditions. DFI works to ensure that Irish society is fully
inclusive of people with disabilities and disabling conditions so that they can exercise
fully their civil, social and human rights. There are 127 organisations within
membership or as associates in DFI. DFI represents the disability interest within
social partnership through its participation in the Community and Voluntary Pillar. DFI
is a member of the Disability Stakeholders Group, which works with government to
progress the National Disability Strategy and it is also active in other fora.

Other important organisations of disabled people include:

People with Disabilities Ireland - PWDI is however no longer a national organisation
since state funding was discontinued. Local branches will continue will continue to
operate as local organisations.

Irish Advocacy Network - The Irish Advocacy Network Ltd was set up to offer peer
advocacy services for persons with experience of mental health services throughout
the island of Ireland.

                                             Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

The Center for Independent Living - The Center for Independent Living was
established by and for people with disabilities, with the aim of ensuring that people
with disabilities achieved Independent Living, choice and control over their lives and
full participation in society as equal citizens.

The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) is an
independent non-profit organisation working to promote full access to and
participation in further education for students with disabilities and to enhance their
employment prospects on graduation.

Irish Deaf Society - This is the national representative organisation of Deaf and hard
of hearing people, serving the interest and welfare of the Deaf Community.

Down Syndrome Ireland - Down Syndrome Ireland promotes inclusion, equality and
choices for people with Down syndrome and their families.

Mental Health Ireland - this is a national voluntary organisation which aims to
promote positive mental health and to actively support persons with mental illness, as
well as their families and carers.

Policy contacts

The main contact point for co-ordination of disability policy at the national level is:

The Minister of State at the Department of Health and Department of Justice,
Equality & Defence with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality & Mental
Health. The Minister is advised by the National Disability Authority (NDA), an
independent statutory agency established under the aegis of the Department of
Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The National Disability Authority’s mandate is set
out in the National Disability Authority Act 1999 and the Disability Act 2005, and in
summary is:

    To provide policy advice to Government and public bodies
    To undertake, commission and collaborate in disability research and assist in
     the development of statistical information
    To advise on standards and guidelines in services to people with disabilities
    To develop standards, education and promote awareness of Universal Design

Public information about disability entitlements and benefits is available from:

The Citizens Information Board is the national agency responsible for supporting the
provision of information, advice and advocacy on social services to the public. They
have produced a number of documents specifically focused on the entitlements of
people with disabilities.

Other important national bodies with responsibility for disability issues include:

                                             Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

The body which will result once the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality
Authority have been merged. Please see Centre for Disability Law and Policy
submission on this topic for more information.

Law and policy

More details of national policy instruments, and with relevance to the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities, are provided in ANED’s online
policy mapping tool.

Current national disability strategy or action plan:

The National Disability Strategy (NDS) was launched by the Government in
September 2004 with the overall aim of supporting equal participation of people with
disabilities in society. The implementation of the NDS is the agreed focus of disability
policy under the Partnership Agreement Towards 2016 (T2016).

It consists of:

The Disability Act 2005. This Act established a statutory basis for improving access to
mainstream public services for people with disabilities, as well as placing obligations
on public bodies to promote and support the employment of persons with disabilities.
Some of the key features of the Act include provision for an individual right to an
independent assessment of need and a related service statement, provision of a
statutory basis for access to public buildings and services and the imposition of a 3%
quota on public bodies for the employment of people with disabilities.

The Education for Persons with Special Needs Act 2004. This Act provides for the
assessment of children's educational needs and the allocation of resources to meet
those needs, with an emphasis on integrating children into mainstream education
where appropriate.

The Citizens Information Act 2007. This Act gives legislative responsibility to the
Citizens Information Board to develop advocacy services for people with disabilities,
particularly a personal advocacy service to deal with the most complex cases. As of
yet however, no personal advocacy service has come into existence under this

The Strategy also includes six sectoral plans, which are statutory action plans in key
government departments. The relevant departments are - The Department of Health
and Children, the Department for Social and Family Affairs, the Department of
Transport, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the
Department for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Department
of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The Senior Officials Group on Disability, which reports to the Cabinet Committee on

                                            Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

Social Inclusion, monitors progress on the implementation of the National Disability
Strategy. This group consists of officials representing the six government
departments responsible for implementing the Sectoral plans as well as the
Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform,
the Department of Finance and the Department of Education and Science.

A National Disability Strategy Stakeholder Monitoring Group has also been
established to monitor progress on the overall implementation of the strategy. This
group is comprised of the Senior Officials group on Disability, a number of
stakeholder groups, the National Disability Authority as well as the Irish Congress of
Trade Unions and Irish Business and Employers Confederation.

Other important elements to note here include:

A Vision for Change - A Vision for Change details a comprehensive model of mental
health service provision for Ireland. It describes a framework for building and
fostering positive mental health across the entire community and for providing
accessible, community-based, specialist services for people with mental illness.

The Value for Money & Policy Review of Disability Services - A central task of the
Value for Money and Policy Review is to establish how better outcomes and a better
life for people with disabilities could be achieved through refocusing the current
orientation, funding and systems for disability services. The group has published a
report outlining recommendations for reform of disability services and is currently
engaging in a consultation process with stakeholders regarding the findings of the

Legislation on capacity is forthcoming in Ireland and is anticipated shortly. This
legislation will replace the current ward of court system in place since the 19 th
century. The Mental Capacity Bill has been listed in Section A of the current
Legislative Programme.

Other important national laws, policies or strategies concerning disabled people and
disability issues include:

Article 40.1 of the Irish Constitution states that all citizens shall, as human persons,
be held equal before the law. There is no specific mention of people with disabilities.

The Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 regulates the ward of court system of
substituted decision-making but is due to be replaced shortly by the Mental Capacity

The Equal Status Act 2000 outlaws discrimination against disabled people in
accessing goods and services, accommodation and education.

The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2010 cover nine protected grounds against

                                            Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

discrimination, one of which is disability. The Acts covers all issues related to
employment, including: advertising; equal pay; access to employment; vocational
training and work experience; and terms and conditions of employment. Employees
in both the public and private sector are covered.

The most recent social partnership agreement, Towards 2016, came into effect in
2006 and runs for a period of 10 years to 2016. The agreement sets out a number of
long term goals for people with disabilities, for example, that every person with a
disability would, in conformity with their needs and abilities, have access to
appropriate care, health, education, employment and training and social services.

The Mental Health Act 2001 reformed the existing law on involuntary admission to
psychiatric hospitals of people suffering from mental disorders, including those with a
significant intellectual disability, as well as providing for the independent review of
involuntary admission of such persons.

The Health Act 2007 provides for a new system of inspection and registration for
residential centres for people with disabilities. The HIQA standards which were
developed following this legislation are currently not in force. (link)

The Building Regulations (Part M Amendment) Regulations 2010 introduce a number
of significant amendments to Part M of the Building Regulations, and raise the
requirements for accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Data and research

Enquiries about official data on disability issues can be directed to:

Central Statistics Office- This is the body tasked with the collection and dissemination
of statistics in Ireland.

Physical and Sensory Disability Databases: The objective of the Physical and
Sensory Disability Database is to gather information on the specialised health and
personal social service needs of people with a physical or sensory disability.

Intellectual Disability Data Bases: This is a database of information about people who
are receiving intellectual disability services in this country or who are in need of these
services. The objective of the database is to ensure that accurate information is
available about the needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

National disability survey data:

National Disability Survey 1

National Disability Survey 2
Key academic journals or networks:

                                              Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

Centre for Disability Law and Policy, National University of Ireland Galway

The Centre is dedicated to producing research that informs debate on national and
international disability law reform. The Centre offers a Master of Laws in International
and Comparative Disability Law and Policy, which focuses on the dynamics of legal
and social change including contemporary law reform challenges in the disability

Disability Studies Centre, University College Dublin

The Centre aims to promote the inclusion and independence of people with
disabilities through research, teaching and service to the wider community.

National Institute for Intellectual Disability, Trinity College Dublin

The mission of the NIID is to enable people with intellectual disability to develop their
potential by a through a combination of research, dissemination of new knowledge
and professional training.

Sligo Institute of Technology

Sligo Institute of Technology offers a Higher Certificate in Arts in Advocacy Studies,
delivered by distance education in partnership with the Citizens information Board
and The Equality Authority.

National University of Ireland, Maynooth

The National University of Ireland, Maynooth offers a Certificate Course on Disability
Studies which is designed to examine current models of disability. The course
critically evaluates issues of oppression, power and gender and explores barriers to
inclusion experienced by persons with a disability.

Recent research studies and publications include:

From Rhetoric to Action- Implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities

An Intellectual Disability Supplement to TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on

Towards 2016- Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015

Time to Move on from Congregated Settings: A Strategy for Community Inclusion

                                         Academic Network of European Disability experts (ANED)

Fifth Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Group for A Vision for Change -
the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy - June 2011

Programme for Government: A Blueprint for Ireland’s Future 2007-2012

Facts and figures

More details are available from ANED’s Indicators of Disability Equality in Europe.
The following key points are summarised from data sources at European or national
level, with particular relevance to the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and
Europe 2020 targets.

Indicators of employment:

According to EU SILC data for 2009, compiled by ANED, the employment rate for
disabled people (aged 20-64) in Ireland was 29.0%, compared to 65.1% for non-
disabled people (31.4% for disabled men and 26.7% for disabled women). The
unemployment rate was 26.4% and the economic activity rate 39.5%.

Indicators of education:

According to EU SILC data for 2009, compiled by ANED, the proportion of disabled
people (aged 30-34) having completed tertiary level education in Ireland was 39.4,
compared to 52.2 for non-disabled people (39.8 for disabled men and 39.1 for
disabled women). The proportion of young disabled people (aged 18-24) leaving
school early in Ireland was 26.5, compared to 8.1 for non-disabled people.

Indicators of poverty and incomes:

According to EU SILC data for 2009, compiled by ANED, the proportion of disabled
people (aged 16-59) living in households at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion in
Ireland was 38.4, compared to 15.1 for non-disabled people (41.1 for disabled men
and 35.8 for disabled women).


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