Advocacy Through DFI’s Community Development Programme

DFI’s Advocacy Structures

DFI’s advocacy and representation works to support the implementation and realisation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) at community level. We do this through:

  • Influencing the investment, development and implementation of disability policy and disability equality proofed mainstream strategies at national and regional levels.
  • Ensuring the integrity of the Articles of the UN CRPD,[1] the Irish Sign Language Act[2] and the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty[3].
  • Working towards goals of the Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities Strategy,[4] the Values and Principles for Collaboration and Partnership[5] and the All-Ireland Standards for Community Work.[6]

The Community Advocacy Programme

DFI’s Community Advocacy Programme is part of DFI’s wider advocacy and representation structure. It is one of the foundation spaces of advocacy for DFI, as a pan-disability federation of community-based organisations. By using equality, social inclusion and anti-poverty goals in community development practice, DFI:

  • Signposts member organisations to local government and decision-making structures, community support, capacity-building resources and funding.
  • Supports frontline workers within member organisations to access resources, peer support and training, and access to DFI’s Family and Community-Based Support Workers Forum and DFI’s Self-Advocacy Programme.
  • Provides avenues for greater social inclusion, lived experience representation and self-advocacy for disabled people including access to the DFI National Access for All Network[7] and DFI’s Self-Advocacy Programme.
  • Facilitates a process of collaboration, engagement, and consultation with people with disabilities, member organisations and other stakeholders such as the Local Government Management Agency’s (LGMA) Access Officer Network.

In recent times, the DFI community advocacy space has experienced significant requests to support disability inclusion within Local Authorities, Local Area Partnerships, Public Participation Networks, Access and Disability Networks. DFI delivers advocacy across key areas of public sector policy including County/City Development Plans, Local Economic and Community Plans (LECPs), Housing, Health Regions and Sláintecare, Public Realm and Active Travel, in collaboration with DFI’s Advocacy and Representation Programme, and using the UN CRPD.

The Value of Our Members

DFI’s aim within community advocacy is to highlight the value our members provide to the people with   whom they support. Through DFI’s awareness and education work with public, community and voluntary sector bodies we enable opportunities for members and disabled people to:

  • Engage in public consultations and advocacy with Government Departments, Local Authorities, and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
  • Join the membership of local, wider stakeholder community advocacy groups such as social inclusion and civil society networks.
  • Provide access to resources including DFI’s forthcoming Disability Inclusion Training Manual, co-produced with disabled people.

DFI Local Government, Community Stakeholders and the Implementation of UN CRPD Articles into Action

DFI Community Advocacy has specific links of representation and consultation at local government level. Wicklow County Council and DFI initiated an innovative Disability Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC) working in partnership across all areas of the Council with a multitude of stakeholders. Key outputs include:  

  • The development of an Access and Inclusion Toolkit for community groups.
  • The development of a County Wicklow Disability and Access Strategy.

Work with Galway, Cork and Kerry Local Authorities, people with disabilities and key stakeholders have included:

  • The development of a Resource Guide on Inclusive Community Engagement.[8]
  • The Galway Gold Star Disability Initiative, Disability Inclusion training, walkability audits and beach accessibility audits.

Consultation, Representation and Priority Areas

DFI’s community advocacy is guided by consultation with our members' and the people with disabilities who use their services to inform priority areas for the programme.

Community Advocacy Priorities 2023/2024:

  1. Advocate for a National UN CRPD Implementation Plan to include funding and resources at Local Authority level.
  2. Utilise established forums and decision-making structures such as the Local Community Development Committees within Local Authorities to deliver the UN CRPD and Sláintecare health and social care reform through community programmes and activities.
  3. Advocate for the Disability Friendly Housing Technical Specialist Officers to be standalone and resourced roles to support the expertise in universal design across all Local Authorities.
  4. Support Local Authority requests for disability inclusion consultations and policy development e.g., Wicklow County Council’s Communications Strategy and support to the new Active Travel team and the new Bray Harbour re-development.
  5. Complete Wicklow’s Disability and Access Strategy.
  6. Promotion of the Wicklow Access and Inclusion Toolkit for Community Groups.
  7. Complete the DFI Disability Inclusion Training manual, co-produced and delivered with disabled people.
  8. Support Local Authority requests for disability inclusion and awareness training, co-produced and co-facilitated with disabled people.
  9. Ongoing national and regional submissions on disability and mainstream policies.
  10. Annual Make Way Day and Purple Lights campaigns.
  11. Changing Places Ireland, national steering committee representation.
  12. Seat on An Taisce Blue Flag Jury to promote beach accessibility.
  13. Support to the National Access for All Network and Access Officer Network.
  14. Continue to work with youth services, older person’s networks, Travellers, migrants and new communities.

List of Community Advocacy Programme Committees:

Local Authority

Wicklow County Council Disability Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC)

Local Authority Housing Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs)

Galway City, Galway County, Roscommon, Cork, Kerry and Wicklow County Council HDSGs

DFI National Access for All Network includes over 30 independent Access Groups from around the country.

Galway Access For All Steering Committee

Cork Access Group

Disability Networks

Galway Disability Forum

Bray Area Partnership Disability Network

Changing Places Ireland

Waterford Disability Network  

Public Participation Networks (PPNs)

Galway City Community Network

Galway County PPN

Kerry PPN

County Wicklow PPN 

Cork City PPN

Cork County PPN

Wicklow PPN

Civil Society Social Inclusion Networks

Galway Civil Society Panel

Kerry Education Training Board (ETB)

Wicklow Sports Partnership

An Taisce Blue Flag Jury

Kerry Local Link Board Member

SING Social Inclusion Network Group Wicklow 

CESCA – Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance

How to Get Involved

All DFI Members providing community-based support and services are automatically referred to the Community Advocacy Programme. For further details contact our Community Advocacy Programme Development Manager PJ Cleere. 

Notes and References: 

[1] Including the adoption of the guidance of Article 4(3) in the UN CRPD, to meaningfully involve and effectively consult with people with the lived experience of disability.

[2] Irish Sign Language Act 2017 - Commencement Order 2020 and the provision of Irish Sign Language Interpretation

[3] Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 (

[4] Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities: A five-year strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland 2019-2024 Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities.pdf (

[5] Values and Principles For Community Vol 2022.pdf (

[6] All Ireland Standards for Community Work.indd (

[7] Includes over 30 independent Access Groups from around the country.