Disability Federation of Ireland's reaction to publication of the Disability Action Plan 

December 14 2023


The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) offers the following comment on today's publication of the long-awaited Disability Action Plan 2023-2026.

This is the Government's follow-up to the Disability Capacity Review published in 2021 and follows years of underfunding in the disability sector. We acknowledge the extensive work that has gone into preparing the Action Plan and that the commitment by the Department Of Children Equality, Disability, Integaration and Youth (DCEDIY), Ministers Rabbitte and O'Gorman and the HSE to address the crisis in disability services.

DFI advocated for the Action Plan to be grounded in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UN CRPD. In particular, for there to be a significant focus on community-based services that promote independence. The Disability Action Plan includes welcome targets in relation to Children's Services, adult day services, personal assistance, residential services, home supports, and multi-disciplinary therapies. 

However, it is disappointing that these are restricted to services which account for supports to just 7% of disabled people. For these targets to be met, the ongoing challenge of filling posts has to be a high priority. 

Investment in the wider landscape of community services is essential to enable people to live independently in their communities, in line with Article 19 of the UN CRPD.  We are concerned that there is insufficient focus on disability services delivered by voluntary organisations that fall outside of the traditional HSE disability services programme. 

The Plan also does not acknowledge or recognise that a central pillar of disability service provision is by voluntary organisations, providing upwards of 70% of supports in the community. Partnership with the voluntary sector is critical to the realisation of the Plan. There was a missed opportunity with shared principles of partnership developed by the government in collaboration with statutory bodies and voluntary organisations, published in April, which could have been a fundamental element of the plan.

We are also concerned that there is a lack of ambition in some areas - for example, the Plan sets a target of supporting 260 people under 65 living in nursing homes into the community by 2026. Given that there are over 1,250 people under 65 living in nursing homes, this is not an ambitious enough target.

Realisation of the UN CRPD is not the responsibility only of DCEDIY, and the HSE. While the Plan makes reference to cross-department working this is limited and it will require a whole of Government approach. 

We look forward to analysing the Disability Action Plan in more detail. We will play our part working with DCEDIY, the HSE, colleagues in the voluntary sector and disabled people in supporting its rollout and monitoring its implementation on an ongoing basis.

Notes to Editors: 


For media contact:

Brenda Drumm, Communications Manager, Disability Federation of Ireland, 086 076 4114 brenda