"We Can't Opt Out Of The Future"

October 20 2009, 01:02pm


National Conference
21st & 22nd November 2007
Portlaoise Heritage Hotel Portlaoise, Co. Laois


Voluntary disability organisations have been to the forefront of promoting the inclusion and wellbeing of people with disabilities. They have a critical role to play in assisting people with disabilities to gain access, as equal citizens to all aspects of Irish life; this includes the provision of specialist services and in enabling people with disabilities to access services available to members of the public.

The Conference focuses on the continued importance and changing role of disability organisations in the new environment being shaped by the Government's commitments in the National Disability Strategy (NDS) and Towards 2016 to the mainstreaming of supports and services to people with disabilities. A key tool to achieving this goal will be the ability of all organisations both voluntary and statutory to work better together.

Towards 2016 states 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...be supported to enable them, as far as possible, to lead full and independent lives, to participate in work and in society and to maximise their potential."

There are already many examples of joint working in the delivery of supports and services for people with disabilities. This Conference aims to build upon this experience and to explore:

  • the centrality of joint working to the delivery of the NDS;
  • give an overview of different ways and means of joint working;
  • discuss joint working in an Irish context;
  • identify what supports and what hinders joint working, and
  • allow organisations a time to learn from one another's experiences and concerns in relation to joint working.

The NDS and Towards 2016 offers a road map for the future of supports and services to people with disabilities. This Conference will assist organisations to prepare for this future.

Who Should Attend?

Representatives from voluntary disability organisations or statutory agencies interested in delivery of supports and services to people with disabilities.


Wednesday 21st November

  • 9.30 Registration, light refreshments
  • 10.30 Opening Address - Geraldine Clare, Chairperson of DFI and CEO of Aware
  • 10.40 John Dolan - "Our Future"
  • 11.00 Stephen Rourke - "Collaboration And Inter-Organisation Work Within The Disability Sector - Opportunities And Challenges"
  • 11.45 Tea & Coffee
  • 12.00 Dermot McCarthy - Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach
  • 12.15 Panel - Mark Little (Facilitator), Brendan Broderick, Eithne Frost, Dermot McCarthy, Stephen Rourke
  • 1.00 Lunch
  • 2.15 Workshop - "The Challenges of Collaboration"
  • 3.30 Tom Ronayne - "Working Together for the Public Good"
  • 4.00 Peter Cassells - Chairperson of the National Centre for Partnership and Performance
  • 4.15 Panel - Peter Cassells, Deirdre Garvey, Helen Lahert, Tom Ronayne, Stephen Rourke
  • 4.45 Close, Tea & Coffee
  • 7.30 Conference Dinner

Thursday 22nd November

  • 10.00 Opening Address - Paul Ledwidge, Vice Chairperson of DFI and CEO of St. Michael'sHouse
  • 10.10 Laverne McGuinness - National Director of Primary, Community & Continuing Care
  • 10.30 Nuala Crowe -Taft - "Current Examples of Inter-Organisational Work within the Disability Sector"
  • 11.00 Workshop - "Creativity in Collaboration"
  • 12.15 Panel - Facilitator (to be confirmed), Nuala Crowe-Taft, Eithne Fitzgerald, Des Kenny, Laverne McGuinness, Dr. Fergus O'Ferrall
  • 1.15 John Dolan CEO of DFI
  • 1.30 Close, Tea & Coffee

Panel & Speaker Biographies

  • Brendan Broderick - Chairperson of The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and CEO Sisters of Charity of Jesus & Mary Services.
  • Peter Cassells - Chairperson of the National Centre for Partnership and Performance.
  • Geraldine Clare - Chairperson of DFI and CEO Aware.
  • Nuala Crowe-Taft - Development Manager & Research Consultant. The focus of her work is on inclusive development strategies, her work includes DFI's Mainstreaming for Me Project.
  • John Dolan - CEO of DFI.
  • Eithne Fitzgerald - Head of Policy and Public Affairs, National Disability Authority.
  • Eithne Frost - Consultant to Community and Voluntary Organisations.
  • Deirdre Garvey - CEO of The Wheel.
  • Dr. Fergus O'Ferrall - Director, Adelaide Hospital Society.
  • Des Kenny - Chairperson of The Not for Profit Business Association and CEO of National Council for the Blind of Ireland.
  • Helen Lahert - Manager, Advocacy and Accessibility, Citizen Information Board.
  • Paul Ledwidge - Vice Chairperson of DFI and CEO of St. Michael's House.
  • Mark Little - Presenter of RTE's Prime Time.
  • Dermot McCarthy - Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach.
  • Laverne McGuinness - National Director of Primary, Community & Continuing Care.
  • Tom Ronayne - Director of WRC Social and Economic Consultants. His recent work has included a study of inter-organisational working for the Dublin Employment Pact. He co-authored, 'A Strategy of Engagement: Towards a Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities' NDA 2006.

Stephen Rourke - Organisational Development Consultant for the community and voluntary sector. Stephen was consultant to DFI on the projects 'Mainstreaming for Me' and 'Chairpersons as Effective Leaders'. Stephen is also a Board member of Philanthropy Ireland, Glencree Centre for Reconciliation and Dublin AIDS Alliance.

Conference Booking Form

Please complete this form and return together with your payment to:

Disability Federation of Ireland,
Fumbally Court,
Fumbally Lane,
Dublin 8.
Tel: (01) 454 7978
Fax: (01) 454 7981
E-mail: conference@disability-federation.ie

Please make all cheques/bank drafts payable to: 'Disability Federation of Ireland'

Registration Fee

  • Member: €125
  • Non-Member: €200
  • Dinner 21st Nov: €50

Method of Payment

  • Cheque:
  • Invoice:








Invoice contact & address (if different from previous):

Dietary Requirements:

Accessibility Requirements:

Booking Terms & Conditions:

  • Full payment is due prior to the Conference date.
  • In case of a no-show or late cancellation the total amount will be invoiced.
  • Fees include lunch on the Wednesday.
  • The closing date for registration is Wednesday, 14th November 2007.


Overnight accommodation is not included in the registration fee. However, a limited number of rooms are available for a preferential rate. Accommodation can be booked separately at:

Portlaoise Heritage Hotel,
Co. Laois.
Tel: (057) 86 78 588
Fax: (057) 86 78 577
E-mail: info@theheritagehotel.com

Travel information Websites

Supporting Organisations to Enable People with Disabilities An Advocate for the Voluntary Disability Sector

Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) is the national support organisation and advocate for voluntary disability organisations in Ireland who provide services to people with disabilities and disabling conditions.

  • Hidden
  • Intellectual
  • Mental Health
  • Physical
  • Sensory
  • Emotional

Disability Federation of Ireland (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. In pursuit of this vision:

  • DFI acts as an advocate for the voluntary disability sector
  • Supports organisations to further enable people with disabilities

DFI represents and supports over 150 voluntary disability organisations and groups of which 70 comprise its National Council, and 42 of which are Associate Members. Allied to this, it works with and supports over 200 organisations and groups around the country that have a signifi cant and growing disability interest, mainly coming from the statutory and voluntary sectors. DFI provides:

  • Information
  • Training and Support
  • Organisation and Management Development
  • Research and Policy Development
  • Advocacy and Representation
  • Networking

DFI also supports the broader voluntary and disability sector through its representation of the disability strand with the Community and Voluntary Pillar of the Social Partnership process, as a social partner at the National Economic and Social Forum, HSE Co-Ordinating Committees and other fora at regional, national and European level.