Inclusion Ireland, the National Association for People with an Intellectual Disability, has issued a response today (10th May 2019) to a significant funding cut imposed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) for 2019.
Despite a record budget of over €1.9billion for disability services in 2019, Inclusion Ireland will have a cut in core funding from the Health Service Executive (HSE) and no commitment or assurance on funding in 2020. This cut in funding has the potential to seriously restrict the organisation’s work and may lead to job losses.
Sarah Lennon, Interim CEO of Inclusion Ireland said: “A cut of almost 20% of our funding will have a serious impact on our information, support and advocacy work. The vital grassroots work done in ensuring that people with intellectual disabilities and their families have their voices heard and their rights upheld is under threat”.
“It is a crucial time for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland with the state only ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities last year, after a long, 10 year wait. Advocacy organisations such as Inclusion Ireland play a critical role in holding the State to account and making sure that promises are kept.”
Inclusion Ireland was founded in 1961 by family members who wanted better services and supports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Over the decades, Inclusion Ireland has ensured the direct participation of people with intellectual disabilities in its work and into laws and policies.
Inclusion Ireland has been at the forefront of key changes such as the repeal of the Lunacy Act, Assisted Decision-Making, national standards for residential services, cost of disability research and personal budgets, all of which have the potential to make real improvements in the lives of people with disabilities, however, significant challenges remain.
Around 2300 people with disabilities are still living in large institutional settings around the country with over 5000 more living in residential services, many of which offer limited choice or genuine inclusion. Consistent HIQA reports demonstrate persistent, serious concerns around safety and quality of life of people living in residential services and highlight the need for advocacy support and the importance of holding the state accountable for human rights abuses.
In addition, people with disabilities are three times more likely to experience consistent poverty and are less likely to have a job. There are ongoing problems with assessments of need and access to therapeutic and other necessary supports.
Chairperson of Inclusion Ireland, Lorraine Dempsey said: “Inclusion Ireland has worked for almost 60 years to ensure that the voices of people with intellectual disabilities and their family supporters are heard. A cut such as this, as well as the prospect of a further cut to funds in 2020, puts the work of Inclusion Ireland under threat and represents a silencing of the voices of people with intellectual disabilities”.
Ms Dempsey continued “Inclusion Ireland works with people with intellectual disabilities and their families to support them to build their capacity to stand up for their rights and have their voices at the centre of decision making at local, regional and national levels. We all saw the human rights abuses that were uncovered in Áras Attracta in 2015 and it is essential that independent advocacy organisations are funded to highlight people’s concerns and push for improvements so that such abuses will not happen again".
Inclusion Ireland is a national rights-based advocacy organisation that works to promote the rights of people with an intellectual disability. The organisation provides a central forum to identify priorities and formulate nationally agreed policies to present to government, statutory bodies, 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 participation of people with an intellectual disability in Irish society in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.