2009 Annual Review

Issued on December 31 2009


Chairperson's Report

The Board emphasised that the implementation of the 2009 Plan would reference the hugely changed environment. In this regard, key elements were identified, namely, the funding situation, achieving efficiencies, reformation in the way that organisations engage with others, and the importance of DFI giving leadership and support. Furthermore it was appreciated that DFI needed to focus in a number of directions. On the one hand remaining close and relevant to its membership, while at the same time maximising its influence on Government and its agencies in making decisions that will impact on the lives of people with disabilities over the next five to ten years.

With that as the context, the plan of work for the year took shape around a number of core areas. Firstly, we were aware of the need to protect and advance the implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) and to provide practical and relevant support services to our membership. The Renewed Programme for Government recommitted Government to protecting the NDS and in particular to developing a plan to protect and advance the Strategy throughout the recession.

Secondly, significant progress was made in developing a range of services for organisations through the development of the Service Suite. These were important developments for DFI, and areas that we worked on continually throughout the year.

Thirdly, DFI continued to work with other key disability organisations in calling on Government to protect the NDS and through developing “Memorandum of Understanding” documents with the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and CIL Carmichael House. These clearly demonstrated DFI”s ongoing efforts to give leadership and to support cohesion across the voluntary disability sector.

All of the above were supported by developments at Board and corporate services level. The Board continued to give attention to the development of the Board Governance Manual, which was progressed during the year, and an advanced draft was considered. In parallel with this, the CEO participated in the “Stronger Leaders Programme”, which provided governance training and support over a nine month period. The CEO”s participation was supported by the Board, and two members of the Board participated in the module designed for Board members. Furthermore the Board, having made a decision to introduce the Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations (PQASSO) into DFI, undertook an Organisational Healthcheck at Board level with the PQASSO consultant, as a preliminary action. In parallel with developing tools for our organisations we also introduced these tools to assist with our own governance and management.

Other notable activities were the signing of our Service Level Agreement with the HSE, and the decision to undertake a review of our financial systems and operations.
Throughout this Annual Review you will identify progress made across three distinct areas, namely, providing enhanced services and supports to members, primarily through developments to the Service Suite, getting a commitment in the “Renewed Programme for Government” on protecting the NDS throughout the recession and, mainly through that work, giving leadership and coherence to the task of progressing the needs of people with disabilities and disabling conditions at this very difficult time.

These are all examples of the Board systematically responding to its governance responsibilities. From the start of the year the Board gave a strong lead, as set out above, in determining the shape and orientation of the Annual Plan, and this continued throughout with regular reviews of the Plan, which were also supported by an external evaluator. Three National Council meetings were held at which the Board reported on progress towards implementing the Annual Plan in the context of the Strategic Plan.

This has been a year where more demands were made on the Board in relation to planning and governance issues. I wish to acknowledge, and to state my appreciation for, the work and support of all members of the Board. It is important to be aware that Board members have to operate from the perspective of DFI”s vision and mission, having regard to the full membership while, at the same time, carrying the responsibilities and issues of their own organisations on a day to day basis.

Before I conclude, I want to thank my fellow Directors and particularly to acknowledge the support that they have provided. In particular I mention the former Chairperson, Geraldine Clare, who resigned on taking up new employment last August. Around the same time, Niall Keane former Chairperson and Honorary Treasurer for two terms and long standing member of the Board, also resigned. On behalf of all members of DFI I wish to thank them for their service and contribution to DFI. During the year we welcomed two new Directors to the Board, namely Cliodhna O”Neill and George Kennedy, and their service and perspectives are much appreciated.

Apart from preparation for and attendance at meetings, the Directors have also reported to the National Council through its meetings and participated on two Board sub committees dealing with property purchase and the development of the governance manual. As Directors of DFI we are all conscious of our obligation to have regard for the well being of the Federation and to carefully mind its interests on behalf of you, the members of the company. DFI is also well served by many people from our membership organisations and beyond, who actively engage in work to support the objectives of the Federation.

I also wish to acknowledge and thank the staff team and the CEO for what was a very challenging year for them, during which both the Board and membership were, and continue to be, more reliant on them than ever before. We depend on their professionalism and dedication to support the Board and to progress the work of the organisation. We value and appreciate their positive approach to what is ever more critical and challenging work.

The development of our next Strategic Plan during 2010 will give us the opportunity to refocus the organisation and ensure that we provide the leadership and support to the member organisations to enable them to maximise the quality and quantum of services that they can provide to people with a disability.

Paul Ledwidge

Chief Executive Officer”s Overview

Activity and progress has taken place across a number of areas. Firstly, in relation to our corporate capacity we have focused on tightly managing our income and have sought greater efficiencies through renegotiating a range of our non pay costs, along with commencing a review of our financial systems. We upgraded our computer software as part of improving our information management systems, and we also addressed a range of health and safety issues.

Secondly, in relation to supporting organisations, work has continued to focus on Organisational Healthchecks, PQASSO, SKILL Programme and Garda Vetting. We also established a Service Suite Advisory Group to assist us with the monitoring and development of this work. In relation to the HSE Service Level Arrangements and Grant Aid Agreements we continued to invest a significant amount of time engaging with the HSE and the other disability umbrellas.

Thirdly, in the policy implementation area, our core concern was to secure Government”s commitment to agreeing and implementing a plan to protect the NDS throughout the recession. This focused our response to the April Budget and our subsequent engagement with government agencies, member organisations and decision makers. To clarify our internal understanding and to identify a framework to support this, we developed a document, Responding to the Recession, in which we noted three elements of a framework for DFI to protect of the implementation of the NDS and support our members through the recession:

The subsequent commitments in October in the Renewed Programme for Government vindicated the time and effort that we invested in this area. We worked with DSG members and others to get this commitment. At the same time we also worked with our Community and Voluntary Pillar colleagues to develop and promote their complementary position document, We must Protect Vulnerable People! We Must Protect Social Services!

Fourthly, through our policy and support for organisations work we have provided leadership and cohesion, emphasising the need to protect those most who are most vulnerable against the impact of the recession. This was also the focus of our AGM and Seminar in May where we highlighted for organisations the challenges of working in this changing environment. This was also in evidence through our intense engagement with the HSE on protecting health and personal social services for this year and beyond, through to focussing on the educational needs of children with disabilities and the training, employment and housing needs of adults with disabilities. Our conference on disability and local government, Count Me In, which was held in March, provided us with a platform from which to face into the local elections during the second quarter. While doing this we continued to deepen our understanding of how we should deal with the recession. Our Responding to the Recession and Disability Services in the Mainstream papers set out the general approach.

Looking briefly to the year, and years, ahead it is useful to consider what might guide us. As the year under review progressed, our experience has been that there is a greater willingness amongst organisations within the voluntary disability sector, and others to take a very proactive approach to working with others across a wide range of areas. DFI will continue to work in this way, and we are well placed to do so because of the substantial work and reputation we have behind us on the collaboration agenda.

We will continue to intensify supports to our membership on the basis that they will require new or developed organisational models to enhance how they achieve their objectives. These will range from consideration of organisational models that will support mainstreaming through to the development of shared back office / front line service mechanisms, and / or change of focus. The DFI Service Suite is key to this, and substantial progress is being made.

We noted throughout the year that major political and economic events, along with the ongoing focus on unemployment and banking, made it difficult to get consistent and focused engagement from Government and the political system. Nevertheless we are clear that our central focus is still on getting Government to take measures that will protect and prioritise the NDS, and at the same time to support and help build our member organisations to be best placed to play their part.

There remains that strong challenge to the voluntary disability sector to substantiate its reputation, value and status, not just in relation to the recession, but more immediately in the context of the Value for Money Review of the Disability Services. Also during the year, concern “that when Ireland comes out of the recession that there may not be the will or capacity to move on the implementation of the NDS” was identified as the primary risk which we need to continually address.

We are clear about the macro challenge that is the protection of the NDS so that there can be substantial progress in tandem with recovery; we are clear about the Value for Money Review, McCarthy Report, and the increasing HSE orientation in relation to “advocacy / representation” challenges that face us. At the same time we have to consider all these external factors in the context of the structures, shape and orientation of DFI as an organisation, not just to, survive but to come out of the recession with increased relevance, contribution and reputation. These are matters that the management team and the Board need to keep to the fore, and which require ongoing work at corporate service level.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the work and effort of a number of distinct groups within DFI. The National Council and Board set our policy, provide our governance and oversee our management. Within that context the staff team works to further the objectives of DFI. Members of the Council and Board all operate on a voluntary basis. Board Members, who meet on a monthly basis, are often called upon to give additional time and expertise. This has been particularly so over the past year with an intensification of work and consideration necessitated by the current situation. For this I am very grateful. Board Officers have specific roles and responsibilities. In particular, I wish to acknowledge Geraldine Clare, and Paul Ledwidge who took on the role of Chairperson last summer after Geraldine”s resignation, for their sustained work and commitment during the year, and for their advice and support to me as CEO. I would also like to acknowledge and thank our Vice-Chairperson, Paul initially, and then followed by Maurice O”Connell, and our Hon. Treasurer, Niall Keane until last summer, and then Anne Winslow, for their commitment and support. The Board members are also involved in reporting to the National Council and serving on Board sub-committees. We also have other volunteers who represent DFI”s interests on a range of working groups and committees. They too play an important role on behalf of our membership.

It is also right that I acknowledge and thank our staff for ensuring that the work is carried out, and in doing so, to recognise their valuable input into developing the work and future of DFI. They individually and collectively pay a key role in enhancing the reputation of the organisation. As with staff in every organisation in the current economic climate, the latter part of the year brought unwelcome aspects and considerations to their work which, unfortunately, will be with us all for some time. The professional manner in which they have dealt with this changing situation is much appreciated by me and generally within DFI.

John Dolan
Chief Executive Officer

The Year in Review

Building a National Platform


Work continued and intensified throughout the year in building cohesion and providing leadership. There was much extra activity in the context of the social partnership national recovery work, protecting the National Disability Strategy, reorientation of support to our organisations and generally ensuring that DFI”s message was clearly broadcast across the State and political system.

The overarching elements of this work were identified early in the year:

  • Reiterating that the NDS is integral to a sustainable social infrastructure in Ireland that can grow in parallel with the recovery
  • Consistently calling on Government to set out the steps that they will take to protect and enhance the NDS
  • Getting on with the provision of a range of timely and practical projects and services to assist organisations with reorientation
  • Continuing to engage with other agencies on the basis that we should work more closely together and through all that we do and say
  • Protecting the hope that the National Disability Strategy will be delivered

These continued to be at the core of activity for the year across all aspects of our work.

Protecting the National Disability Strategy In response to the Supplementary Budget in April DFI called for a five-year plan to protect and prioritise the National Disability Strategy during the recession. This has necessitated consistent engagement by DFI across the Oireachtas and with Government, with the focus on achieving effective implementation of the Strategy. In October, the commitment in the Renewed Programme for Government vindicated the time and effort that we invested in this area. We worked with our colleagues on the Disability Stakeholders Group and others, including the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, CIL Carmichael House and Care Alliance Ireland, through signing the National Disability Strategy Recession Implementation Charter which called on Government to have a plan in place to protect the NDS throughout the recession. We were also active in the media in this regard.

Local Authority Engagement DFI also engaged strongly with the political parties and candidates in the Local Authority elections, including the seeking of commitments from party leaders to progress the local implementation of the NDS. We are now well positioned to progress this work. This approach was given focus through our conference in March, Count Me In! , and was further strengthened through our growing engagement with a range of external organisations throughout the year.

Working with others on the Service Level Agreements Work across different elements of the HSE and with the Not for Profit Business Association and the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies Providing Services for People with Intellectual Disabilities on the Service Level agenda was also very much an area of collaborative work.

Collaborative Engagement Through Ongoing Relationships DFI continued working on structured collaborative engagement, particularly with The Wheel, the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and the Neurological Alliance of Ireland. Our engagement with the Centre for Independent Living Carmichael House and with People with Disabilities in Ireland significantly increased. Collaborative engagement also took place through which DFI, Carmichael Centre and Volunteer Centres Ireland, with leadership from Boardmatch, came together to support Chairpersons and Boards of Directors. Apart from our ongoing involvement with the HSE we progressed our engagement with other key statutory partners including the Disability Equality Unit in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the National Disability Authority, Citizens Information Board, and the Office for Disability and Mental Health. There was a marked development in our relationship and engagement with the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) in NUI Galway during the year. At the international level work with Dochas, Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency (DESSA) and International Services Ireland (ISI), and the European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities (EASPD) continued. This report outlines many other examples of collaborative engagements in which DFI was involved.

Working with the Disability Stakeholders Group (DSG) We worked with our DSG colleagues and played a significant role around the June seminar for the sectoral plan sub committees. We also engaged with our fellow members of the DSG in relation to developing a coherent overall approach to protecting the NDS during the recession. It is our view that the DSG, and its constituent members, face significant challenges if it is to effectively engage with the State to protect and monitor the implementation of the NDS, and DFI is committed to continuing its work in this critical area.

Working with the Community and Voluntary Pillar Within the context of our overall involvement with the other sixteen organisations on the Pillar there was particular engagement with Social Justice Ireland (formerly CORI Justice), the Irish Council for Social Housing, The Wheel and The Carers Association, and we are exploring areas where we might more consistently work with other organisations. Further opportunity for this is provided through the work of the CV Pillar on developing key performance indicators for the twenty five long term goals set out in Towards 2016 (which include the National Disability Strategy goals), and through participating in the work to update and promote the CV Pillar position on protecting social services throughout the recession.

Conclusion The period under review posed challenges in getting sustained engagement from Government in relation to developing a mechanism to protect the NDS. DFI has been active in progressing work with organisations with which it has established Memoranda of Understanding, or other structured mechanisms, and it has been consistent in driving the twin areas of protecting the National Disability Strategy while simultaneously working to strengthen the capacity of member organisations.

We progressed a “whole of Government” and disability mainstreaming theme to all our collaborative and leadership work during the year. This can be seen, for example, in our response to the McCarthy Report, our support and repositioning work with organisations, and the National Disability Strategy protection work. This has been key to consolidating our shared agenda / platform across the disability sector and further afield in relation to the C&V Pillar and others. There is a sense within DFI that organisations in general are becoming more interested in working with others across key policy areas or the practical areas of service delivery or organisational support. DFI can take some credit in that it has led out consistently over the past year and earlier in these areas.

Policy Developments

Introduction The impact of the economic and fiscal climate gave a particular focus to DFI”s policy work in 2009. The challenge was to ensure that the vision and direction laid out in the National Disability Strategy was not decimated by the crisis posed by the current economic climate.

In addition to representing and protecting the interests of the disability sector through our work in social partnership and through our membership of the Disability Stakeholders Group (DSG), DFI worked closely with other disability umbrella organisations, and with the HSE, on the issue of cuts to disability funding, announced through Budget 2009. A DFI Funding Research Project was initiated with the purpose of gathering evidence of how voluntary disability organisations are funded in general, and the impact that funding cuts are having on these organisations and their service users.

Throughout the year there was accelerated activity and engagement with the HSE and member organisations on the signing of Service and Grant Aid Arrangements. DFI worked closely with the Not for Profit Business Association and the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies to draft complementary Protocols to the Arrangements with the HSE. DFI also facilitated meetings between the HSE and member organisations, as well as organising workshops on the topic of compiling the Schedules. DFI participated on the HSE Standing Committee on Service Level and Grant Aid Arrangements.

A Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services commenced in the Autumn of 2009. DFI initiated a programme of activity to support organisations to engage with and prepare for the findings of the Review. This included hosting two information sessions in 2009, providing information through CEO letters and updates, the DFI Newsletter, and through the development of a briefing document. In addition to this work, DFI also completed the questionnaire issued by the Steering Group for the Review.

DFI also organised a very successful conference, Count Me In! , which explored the strategic role of local government in the effective implementation of the NDS. As demonstrated clearly at this conference, it is through the structures and mechanisms at local government level that mainstreaming can truly be realised for people with disabilities.

Social Partnership DFI continued to participate in the many structures and mechanisms established for the delivery of Towards 2016, including the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) and National Economic and Social Forum Management Committees, the Housing Forum in the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and the Department of Health and Children Consultative Forum. DFI also continued to act as Secretariat to the Community and Voluntary Pillar until the Autumn of this year. Specifically for 2009 the work of the Community and Voluntary Pillar was framed in the context of worsening economic conditions. There were intense engagements across the social partnership process, throughout which the C & V Pillar argued for the need to protect the most vulnerable in Irish society against the worst effects of the economic crisis. DFI approached this as a priority, contributing to, amongst other issues:

  • A number of bi-lateral and Plenary meetings between the Pillar and the Department of the Taoiseach
  • The provision of Submissions to the Department of the Taoiseach in relation to Pillar concerns
  • Participation in a seminar organised with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), and meetings with the Office of Social Inclusion (OCI) in relation to the development of key performance indicators for the long term goals set out in Towards 2016, five of which are disability specific
  • We Must Protect Vulnerable People! We Must Protect Social Services!, a social analysis by the Community and Voluntary Pillar of the cuts proposed through the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, to highlight the potential impact of cuts on the most vulnerable groups in society – sent to the Minister for Finance, the Taoiseach, and key Government Departments

National Disability Strategy DFI has continued to participate in the Disability Stakeholders” Group (DSG) and in the bi-annual meetings of the NDS Stakeholders Monitoring Group (NDSSMG). The key issue for the group was, and continues to be, the protection, prioritisation and monitoring of the Strategy.

The DSG wrote to the Taoiseach in the spring urging Government to identify the measures to be taken to demonstrate the priority of disability in the years ahead, despite the difficult environment. Two seminars took place in June, the first relating to the Review of Sectoral Plans in 2009, as required under the Disability Act (2004), and the second with key representatives of Government departments with Sectoral Plans.

DFI contributed to a joint submission by the DSG to the Department of Social and Family Affairs, and in addition prepared independent submissions to each of the Government Departments with Sectoral Plans, highlighting the weaknesses of many of the existing Plans.

DFI Response to the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes was published in July 2009. The Report, initiated by Government, examined all current exchequer spending across all Departments and agencies, and proposed areas where expenditure and staff savings might be made, as necessary, in the current financial crisis. Following the publication of the Report, DFI provided an initial response through a press release, which was referenced in the media via RTE News and articles in national newspapers. During the proceeding months, and in our pre-Budget work, a more comprehensive analysis was developed that identified the impact of the proposed cuts to disability. This analysis recalled Government”s prioritisation of the National Disability Strategy and outlined the cumulative effect of the proposed cutbacks, in both disability-specific and mainstream services, on the lives of people with disabilities. It was formally submitted to all Government Ministers and Secretaries General in an effort to influence their budgetary decisions.

DFI Disability Questionnaire on Funding and the Recession DFI distributed a survey to member organisations to assess the level of funding and the impact of the cuts applied in 2008/09 on member organisations. We used this information as part of our pre-budget submission campaign, in our work on the Review of Disability Services, in our response to the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, and in our general engagement with and representations to the HSE. Responses were received from 68 organisations. Preliminary analysis of the data is included in the DFI Pre budget analysis.

Estimates and Budget 2010 Campaign The DFI Submission to the Estimates and Budget Campaign 2010 was published at the beginning of summer. DFI stressed the need to ensure that frontline services to people with disabilities were protected. This Budget was critical in light of the challenging economic climate and the stated ongoing commitment by Government to the protection of the National Disability Strategy. Briefings were held with members of the Oireachtas on the 2nd December in relation to our concerns and to encourage action, and DFI member organisations were encouraged to raise concerns through the media, both nationally and locally. DFI also made a submission to the Department of Social and Family Affairs Consultative Forum. DFI”s work on Budget 2010 was linked to its work on the Value for Money Review, to the work of the C&V Pillar of Social Partnership in highlighting the need to protect those who are most vulnerable in Irish society, and to the work of the Disability Stakeholders Group in relation to the protection, prioritisation and monitoring of the Strategy.

Health Issues We continued in our efforts to develop relationships with the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive. Although not entirely successful, we worked to maintain the consultation structures established with the HSE, which included bi-annual meetings with the National Director of Primary Continuing and Community Care, Laverne McGuinness, quarterly meetings with Seamus McNulty, and regular meetings with the National Care Group Director for Disabilities. Similar efforts were made to develop relationships with the Office for Disability and Mental Health in the Department of Health and Children. In an attempt to influence health beyond disability we also extended these efforts to focus on developing relationships with Primary Care Teams and the Office of the Minister for Children. Key areas of work for the year included the following:

Value for Money and Policy Review A Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services commenced in 2009 to examine the Health Service Executive”s Service Programme. This programme had a budget of €1.6 billion in 2009, of which approximately 69% was allocated to disability organisations. The Review is considering what objectives the funding should be targeting, as well as whether or not the activities funded actually deliver on those objectives, and at a minimum cost. DFI made comprehensive and detailed contributions to the consultation process, and made a submission to the Steering Group for the Review”s. As part of its work DFI actively engaged with member organisations to assist them to understand the likely implications of the Review, and to prepare for further changes in the environment in which they operate. DFI organised three meetings with member organisations, developed a briefing document for organisations, and provided ongoing information to member organisations through CEO letters and the DFI Newsletter. John Dolan, CEO of DFI sits on the Steering Group for the Review Process.

Grant Aid and Service Level Arrangements DFI worked intensively with the Not for Profit Business Association, the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, and the HSE in drafting protocols to support the implementation of Service Level and Grand Aid . DFI also sat on the Standing Committee on Service Level and Grant Aid Arrangements. In addition to providing ongoing information through the Newsletter and mail to the CEOs of member organisations, an information session was held for member organisations, and an internal workshop took place between the HSE and DFI on the completion of the schedules. DFI continues to provide information and updates to member organisations.

Supporting Work with Neurological Organisations DFI and the Neurological Alliance of Ireland have worked jointly on a project which includes a range of seminars identifying the role that organisations can play in working with Primary Care Teams. The aims of the project are to examine how organisations currently link with health professionals to develop a framework for effective engagement with Primary Care Teams to document and describe the contribution of niche organisations to the management of neurological conditions, and to develop the capacity of organisations to work collaboratively with the HSE in responding to the needs of their members / clients. The first of three seminars took place in 2009.

National Physical & Sensory Disability Database The Health Research Board (HRB) together with DFI initiated a Direct Access Project in 2009, to explore the potential of, and to support service providers to have direct access to the National Physical and Sensory Disability Database (NPSDD ), and to gather the data on the needs of their service users and upload it onto the database. Training is provided by the HRB in data gathering and software use, and ongoing support, both collectively and individually, is provided. This Project will roll out across the country in early 2010.

Health Groups DFI is a member of a number of National Groups, including:

  • National Implementation Group for the Independent Assessment of Need
  • Standing Committee on Service Arrangements and Grant Aid Agreements
  • HSE Ad Hoc Group on Implementing Budget 2009 Cuts
  • Department of Health and Children Health Advisory Group
  • National Physical and Sensory Disability Database Committee
  • Bi- Annual meetings with the National Director of Primary Community and Continuing Care
  • Quarterly meetings with the National Care Group Director for Disabilities
  • C& V Pillar Department of Health and Children Quarterly Meetings

Supporting the Lifecycle

Children DFI participated on the National Implementation Group 0 – 5 years for the Independent Assessment of Need. There is currently a vacancy for a Chair of this Group, and DFI has been in communication with the HSE to discuss the need to reconvene. DFI also met with the Minister for Children and officials from his office in October at which, amongst other issues, the need to protect the development of IAN despite the current economic challenges was addressed.DFI continues to work closely with the Department of Education and Science, and received updates in relation to the work of the Cross Sectoral Group with the HSE.

Carers Since the announcement in January of the decision not to commence implementation of the Carers Strategy, DFI has been active with member organisations that provide supports and services to family carers. DFI participated in various meetings, seminars, research groups and other processes organised by the Carers” Association and Care Alliance.

Ageing and Older People DFI has set up a network of interest on the issue of ageing and disability, in recognition of the correlation between ageing and disability, and the growing number of people who acquire a disability as they age. This includes our work on the NESF Review of the Implementation of Home Care Packages, hosting and attending seminars on this topic, on the Nursing Home Support Bill 2008 and End of Life issues, and as part of the CARDI Research Network. DFI also provided a submission to the National Strategy for Older People.

Supporting Mainstreaming of Services DFI continued to support the mainstreaming of services for people with disabilities through its work on a number of fora, including:

  • Department of Education and Science – IRIS (Inclusive Research in Irish Schools) Project
  • Social Partnership Bi-Lateral on Education
  • Department of Social and Family Affairs Consultative Forum
  • Office for Social Inclusion (OSI)
  • Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government Committee on the National Housing Strategy for People with Disabilities
  • Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment National Advisory Committee on Disability
  • FÁS National Advisory Committee on Disability
  • Department of Transport Accessible Taxi Consortium
  • Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources TV Access Campaign

Local Government DFI continues to have significant involvement at local level on issues relating to local engagement with the NDS. This included linking with a wide range of local structures including HSE sub groups, local anti-poverty groups, advocacy projects, Social Inclusion Measures (SIMS) Group meetings, Strategic Policy Committees and other County and City Council structures. DFI staff are directly represented on some of these structures and work with representatives from our member organisations on other structures. All of this work is focused on improving access for people with disabilities to public services in their communities. Key activities included:

  • Campaigns for Local Government and European elections, which included promoting disability issues with political party leaders at national level, organising local election events around the country in co-operation with local access groups and other forums
  • Meetings with key policy workers from the main political parties in an effort to influence the focus of their election manifestos
  • A DFI Conference, entitled Count Me In!, with keynote speakers from partner Local Authorities around the country and Minister John Moloney, who also attended the workshops.
  • Consultation and representation arrangements established with Local Authorities, and a range of events that brought council staff and disability organisations together
  • Continuing to progress work on the housing needs of people with disabilities, through the DFI Housing Group, and participation on the Consultative Committee of the Housing Strategy for People with Disabilities and through working at local level with City and County structures

European and International Issues

International Services Ireland and Dessa In collaboration with The Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency (DESSA) and International Services Ireland (ISI), DFI was involved in the development of Putting the World to Rights, a publication relating the real-life stories of people with disabilities in Bolivia, Brazil and Burkina Faso, and outlining how the UN Convention on People with Disabilities is relevant to their lives. The publication was followed by a series of well-attended seminars throughout Ireland. The publication is also in use by the National Youth Council of Ireland in its youth leader training programme, and is being translated into five other languages by the International Labor Organisation. The publication is available to download at www.is-ireland.ie

Dochas Disability and International Development Working Group DFI continued as an active member of this group, which it helped to set up, and which is comprised mainly of international development aid agencies. The focus of the group continues to be on ensuring that disability is firmly on the international development agenda. A new work plan for 2009 and 2010 was developed, which included a plan for the Disability and International Development Week 2010. DFI continued to encourage its member organisations to become involved in this group. The Putting the World to Rights partnership project between DFI, DESSA and ISI, produced a final report which was submitted to Irish Aid

European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities (EASPD) DFI has continued to monitor European and international policy developments and their influence on the Irish policy context, through its membership of the EASPD. DFI has continued to build links with EASPD, supported by John Dolan, who is a member of the Board of EASPD . We provided feedback on the impact of the economic crisis on Irish services to people with disabilities, which will be fed into the Higher Level Group on Disability at the European Commission. DFI linked with EASPD in relation to the European Elections, the development of the next EU disability action plan and the implementation of the UN convention. DFI was also represented at a Conference, organised by the EASPD and the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and held in Dublin, on the topic of international inclusive education.

Submissions by DFI

DFI made a number of Submissions during the year, including:

  • Submission to the Department of Health and Children on the National Strategy for Older People
  • Submission to Department of Education and Science on Mainstream Preschool Services
  • Submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Science: Underachievement at Second Level – the Way Forward
  • Pre-Budget 2010 Submission to the Department of Social & Family Affairs
  • Pre-Budget 2010 Submission to Department of Finance
  • Submission to Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government on Part M of the Building Regulations Act
  • Submission to Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on Sectoral Plan Implementation
  • Submission to Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on Failure of Department and FÁS to Honor Commitments to a Comprehensive Employment Strategy
  • Submission to Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services
  • Submission to Government (through the Community and Voluntary Pillar of Social Partnership) on potential impact of cuts on the vulnerable in our society
  • Submission to Government on Response to the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes
  • Submission to each of the Government Departments with Sectoral Plans highlighting weaknesses in many existing Sectoral Plans
  • Submission to the Minister for Older People on the National Strategy for Older People
  • Submission to the Expert Group on Resource Allocation and Financing in the Health Sector – Department of Health and Children
  • Submission to Department of Health and Children on the National Carers Strategy
  • Submission to Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on Broadcasting Guidelines
  • Submission to Department of Transport - Sustainable Transport Consultation Paper
  • Submission to the National Education Welfare Board Strategic Plan

Conclusion The current national economic environment is placing a huge strain on the State”s capacity and the momentum required to implement the NDS. In efforts to ensure and protect implementation of the Strategy, DFI has been working through a myriad of engagements, both disability specific and mainstream, to ensure this. We recognise that the role and orientation of organisations will be critical, and we will need to look at how best to support them to better understand and play their part in ensuring the delivery of the NDS.

Supporting Organisations

Introduction During 2009 our member organisations continued to adjust to working within the ongoing recessionary environment. The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes was published, containing recommendation to target savings of €50 million from health funding to voluntary disability organisations. The Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services commenced, with the aim of assessing “how well current services for people with disabilities meet their objectives and support the future planning and development of services”.

During the year we consolidated a range of supports we had developed in recent years under the heading of the “DFI Service Suite”. The Service Suite offers a range of supports, provided either directly by DFI or through arrangements made by DFI with external providers that support organisations to build their capacity. Services include the DFI Organisational Healthcheck, PQASSO, SKILL Training Programme, Human Resource Management and Garda Vetting. Research also commenced into a range of other products, including advice on pensions and employee support schemes. The challenge that emerged for DFI itself was not only to support member organisations to be compliant in the context of good governance, but also to support member organisations to prepare for changes in the way services are to be provided to people with disabilities.

A significant amount of work was invested in supporting twenty-three of organisations through the various stages of the DFI Organisational Health Check. In 2008 we had identified a governance quality assurance tool, Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations (PQASSO). In 2009 we worked on how to best implement this tool with our member organisations and commenced the process with eight organisations.

In response to the recession and the impending changes in service provision, we established the Service Suite Advisory Group. The Group compiled a report outlining the challenging environment within which DFI member organisations had to work and how best DFI could support them. The Group had the benefit of involvement of DFI member organisations and representatives from the statutory, voluntary and private sectors. In brief the Group recommended that DFI would need to offer more direct support and leadership to organisations in their efforts to adjust to the new environment.

In May we held a seminar for member organisations, Facing the Challenges, which encouraged organisations to question what services they were providing and how they were providing these services. These issues were raised in the context of the NDS and Towards 2016 commitments to disability and the impending Value for Money Review of Disability Services. During the second quarter of the year DFI sent a questionnaire to member organisations seeking information on funding experiences and the recession. The findings from the report will greatly help to shape our work in supporting our member organisations in the coming years.

In addition to the collective engagement with member organisations through Platform networking meetings around the country, there has been a growing level of individual requests from organisations

in relation to compliance with the HSE Service Level Arrangements and adjusting to the changing economic environment.

Our approach to offering supports to member organisations has been to work with other organisations, and in this regard we are particular appreciative of work we have done with Carmichael Centre, The Wheel, ICTR, SKILL Training Programme and Boardmatch.

DFI Service Suite In recent years we have been developing a range of supports for member organisations to assist them to improve their capacity. In 2009 we commenced work to consolidate them under the heading of the DFI Service Suite. The DFI Service Suite offers a range of services that DFI either provides itself or that DFI has made arrangements with external providers to provide support to organisations to build their capacity. Services include the DFI Organisational Healthcheck, PQASSO, SKILL Training Programme, Human Resource Management and Garda Vetting, during the year research commence into a range of other products including advice on pensions and employee support schemes.

Organisation Healthcheck In response to the growing need for accountability and regulation, DFI developed a diagnostic tool, the “Organisation Healthcheck”, to assist member organisations to evaluate their capacity capabilities and compliance standards, and to review their internal structures. The process examines the organisation across four areas, Governance, Finance & Budgeting, Staff & Volunteers and Policies & Procedures. The Organisation Healthcheck is conducted with the involvement of the CEO, Chairperson, and Board of the participating organisation, and a DFI Support Officer. On completion of the process, a report and recommendations are produced. In 2009 over twenty-three organisations were involved in the process.

PQASSO In order to ensure that organisations maintain the improved quality of their service, governance and management systems, resulting from undergoing the Organisation Healthcheck, DFI conducted research into quality assurance systems, and selected the “Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations” (PQASSO) as being suitable to the needs of our member organisations. A DFI staff member has completed training in the UK as a licensed PQASSO Mentor and Peer Reviewer. DFI actively engages with The Wheel and the Carmichael Centre in relation to PQASSO and, in particular, in relation to the supports and services that organisations will need to implement the process. In 2009 DFI invested significant resources into developing a process for implementing PQASSO with its member organisations. Eight organisations have now commenced implementation.

Human Resource Supports for Organisations DFI has negotiated a discounted Human Resource package with Adare Human Resources Management for DFI members. This was officially launched at the DFI seminar held in May. During the year 9 member organisations availed of the package, and a number of other organisations have been in discussions with Adare to avail of the supports. Member organisations who already receive services from Adare have been offered the package at the reduced price.

Garda Vetting Project A large number of DFI member organisations are experiencing difficulties in securing garda vetting for their staff and volunteers. DFI worked with the Gardaí and with the HSE in relation to the issue. After consulting with organisations, DFI developed a system whereby six member organisations were identified to act as lead organisations to administer the garda vetting process for those in its network. Following training in April by the Garda Vetting Unit of an “Authorised Signatory” in each of the six organisations, information sessions were held by each of the networks for its network members. To date, forty member organisations have been involved in this process.

SKILL Programme: Training for Support Staff and Supervisory Staff of Member Organisations The SKILL Programme, “Securing Knowledge Intra Lifelong Learning”, is the national training initiative aimed at increasing the education, training and development of support staff and their supervisors in the Irish health and personal social services areas. The role of DFI is to provide administrative, financial and co-ordination support to member organisations in the placement of staff onto the SKILL Programme. Since commencement in 2006, over 700 staff from 29 DFI member organisations have registered on the Training Programme. 2009 brought the involvement of 15 DFI member organisations onto the SKILL Programme. In November 2009, graduation ceremonies were held nationwide. Awards were conferred in Health Service Skills FETAC Level 5 and Advanced Certificate in Supervisory Management Skills FETAC Level 6.

The DFISKILL Programme Steering Group continued to support and guide the work of DFI in regard to SKILL in 2009. The DFISKILL Programme Training Strand collaborated with the National Federation for Voluntary Bodies and SKILL in contextualising the suite of SKILL modules to include reference to the working experience and specific training needs of the voluntary disability sector. The DFISKILL Programme HR Strand was established in 2009 and commenced work to support the development of SKILL guidelines and best practice documents to participating DFI member organisations.

Chairpersons as Effective Leaders Project The Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and DFI jointly funded the re-printing of the very popular publication relating to the Chairpersons as Effective Leaders project. This coincided with the development of a training course, based in the above publication, and developed and delivered by the Carmichael Centre.

Support for Chairs and Boards DFI sponsored a series of Chair”s Networks and workshops on Developing Board and Management Committees. These events took place in venues around the country, and were organised by Boardmatch Ireland in collaboration with DFI, Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and Volunteer Centres Ireland. The Chairs Network is aimed at existing Chairs, or Directors who are considering taking on this role, and is a forum for Chairs to discuss issues of common concern and to provide support. The workshops target existing Board or Management Committee members, and those who are considering becoming involved in Board or Management Committees.

Memoranda & Articles of Association DFI is working with the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and Arthur Cox & Company to develop a template for organisations to use in drafting Memoranda and Articles of Association. The text of a Memorandum and Articles of Association document has been agreed, and further collaboration will take place with Arthur Cox & Company to develop the template.

BoardMatch BoardMatch works to assist voluntary organisations to identify suitable board members. DFI worked with BoardMatch to offer support to our member organisations in identifying prospective board members. In addition to routine supports we identified the need to work jointly on offering support for Chairs of organisations and have commenced work on this.

DFI Seminar – Facing the Challenges A seminar for member centered on encouraging organisations to question what services they were providing and how these were being provided. These questions were put to organisation in the context of the NDS and T16 commitments to disability along with the impending Value for Money and Policy Review . As part of the seminar we promoted the services that DFI offers to members through the Service Suite.

Charities Legislation The Charities Act 2009 was enacted into law in early 2009. DFI, along with other umbrella organisations, continued throughout the year to ensure that organisations are aware of the implications of this legislation and the reporting requirements that will be demanded of them in the new regulatory environment.

DFI Platform and Activity Events Platform meetings are an opportunity for disability organisations to network and engage collectively in discussions around key issues affecting disability services at local and regional level. Platform meetings were held throughout the regions and covered a wide range of topics which included planning meetings, developing work plans, information on DFI Service Suite, Value for Money Review, the benefits of ICT, collaboration, providing updates to organisations on policy developments, HSE issues, housing, future service delivery and funding issues. The Activity events aim to assist organisations to consider capacity issues within their own organisations, and included events on strategic planning, corporate enforcement, funding, and support for staff.

Collaborative Projects DFI actively supports and participates in a wide range of collaborative projects at local and national levels and wherever possible we progress our work in a collaborative manner. Some examples of this work are listed in Appendix II. The main areas included work with local government, Social Inclusion Measures (SIMS) Groups, Local Development Partnerships, advocacy projects and shared accommodation projects.

Conclusion The overall achievement for 2009 was the increasing engagement with the senior staff and Boards of our member organisations through our Organisational Healthcheck and PQASSO. In 2010 the challenge will be to expand that level of engagement to more of our member organizations and to support each organization in relation to the how they respond to the changes that are occurring in how services are being provided to people with disabilities.

DFI: The Organisation

During 2009 while we continued a focus on developing DFI”s internal capacity and organisational development, our primary focus was on managing our finances in a time of great uncertainty. We also prepared ourselves for a review of our financial management systems and processes and of our knowledge management systems. We also developed our internal staff engagement processes and completed the HSE Service Level Arrangements.

Finance Considerable work was carried out in reviewing our budget in the context of the ongoing necessity for cost savings. With the threat of cuts in income DFI needed to reposition itself to ensure we could operate in the new working environment. We continued to review all non pay costs, with the purpose of seeing greater value for money from suppliers. We engaged an expert to assist with improving the efficiency and effectiveness of financial systems and processes and, in particular, our reporting mechanisms to the HSE. Initial work on Budget 2010 also commenced.

Strategic Plan and Operational Plan DFI has met with an external evaluator to begin the process of planning for the new Strategic Plan, which will be developed in 2010. DFI recognises the need for any future plan to be flexible and realistic enough to fit with the uncertainty that exists in the sector at present.

Governance Work continued on developing a Governance Manual for Board Members, and this is nearing completion. In addition the DFI Board participated in the Organisational Health Check, and has agreed that DFI itself would participate in the PQASSO process, and this will take place early in 2010.

Premises Due to the economic situation it was decided to delay any considerations in relation to the office and meeting space needed by DFI.

Membership Our membership categories were changed this year from Members (National Council & General) and Associate Members, to Members (National Council & General) and Associates. The New “Associates” group allows for association with DFI from organisations that have an interest in disability but may not provide direct services, and may also be “for profit” in nature but be working to improve conditions for the disabled community.

Knowledge & Information Management DFI”s primary resource is information. A Knowledge and Information Management Group was setup within DFI to look at improving the ability of the organisation to manage, produce and disseminate knowledge and information. We have engaged with an expert in the area and are preparing to complete a knowledge audit which will also assist us in identifying where the gaps or overlaps exist in our current information management.

Information and Communications Technology We provided ICT support and remote access to our staff who are in various locations around the country. DFI”s ICT infrastructure continued to be upgraded, with the rollout of Microsoft Office 2007. However, with cost and access to information now at the forefront of DFI”s ICT agenda, the proposed upgrading of the back servers to Microsoft Small Business Server 2007 was put on hold while we investigate consolidating our current infrastructure, and look at more cost effective ways of providing services ,such as cloud computing. Staff training was provided in Office 2007, in addition to other training programs. An intranet site is being piloted for staff and has been used to share information in a structured way on a range of issues.

Staff Structures and Changes In light of the deepening recession it is very important that DFI can redeploy its resources to the areas where the member requirements can best be assessed and addressed. DFI continue to work in cross functional teams to ensure we are as prepared as we can be to support the ever growing needs of our members.
Staff Training The main training this year was in PQASSO training for all Support Officers, Microsoft Office 2007 and Manual handling training for all staff. As required, staff attended events and conferences to broaden their knowledge of disability issues.

DFI Information Services DFI continued to be responsive to the needs of members in terms of information provision. We are conscious that this is a key need for our member organisations, and DFI responded to ongoing queries from organisations. DFI”s information services also support the broader community and voluntary sector, as well as other statutory and non-statutory agencies. The three main services of information provision are the monthly Newsletter, the regional platform meetings and the DFI website. A series of events were held in DFI providing information on many topics relevant to our members and the sector in general, including issues relating to the Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services and the new Charities Legislation. Further information is provided in Appendix II, “Collaborative Projects”.

DFI Newsletter The monthly Newsletter is an important contact and reference point for DFI member organisations, as well as other organisations in the wider community and voluntary sector, statutory and non-statutory organisations and agencies. Particularly in the current climate of constant change, the Newsletter is a useful resource for updates on issues affecting the sector. The Newsletter is published monthly and has a wide circulation, as well as being available on the website.

Website As well as providing web access to the DFI Newsletter, the DFI website is a key reference facility for organisations and wider agencies. The new AAA accessible website developed during the year now meets the new WCAG 2.0 standards, and has been expanded and enhanced to cover a wide range of topics and references which will be a great resource. Usage of the site continues to expand and grow, and DFI will continue to maintain and develop its content to a high standard. The site now allows us to grow the information contained in a more structured and meaningful way. Because the site now has a database at the back, for the first time we are now able to use a Content Management System (CMS) to allow staff to easily update the site. This ensures that information is current, while also reducing our support costs around maintaining the site and its accessibility.

Conclusion Considerable work was invested into managing our finances in 2009. Although groundwork was progressed in other areas it was the management of the finances dominated our corporate services work. We are well placed in 2010 to benefit from the work we have put into our financial systems to broaden our focus again.

Board, Membership, Including National Council Member Organisations

Board 2009

Geraldine Clare Chairperson (retired from Board July 09) (from September 09)

Paul Ledwidge Chairperson St Michael”s House

Maurice O”Connell Vice Chairperson (from September 09) (retired as Treasurer May 09; retired from Board)

Niall Keane Hon. Treasurer Alzheimer Society of Ireland 09) DeafHear.ie

Anne Winslow (Hon. Treasurer June 09) Vantastic Ltd

Don Bailey MS Society of Ireland

Anne Coffey KARE

Mike Glynn Brainwave

Desmond Kenny National Council for the Blind of Ireland (from January 2010)

George Kennedy Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland

Kieran Loughran Headway

Cliodhna O”Neill Ireland Rehab Group (from May 09)

Joe T Mooney Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (retired May 2009)

Judy Windle Genetic & Rare Disorders Organisation

National Council Member Organisations 2009

  • Action for Mobility
  • Alzheimer Society of Ireland
  • APT
  • Arthritis Ireland
  • ASPIRE – Asperger Syndrome Association
  • Asthma Society of Ireland
  • BRAINWAVE – The Irish Epilepsy Association
  • BRÍ – Acquired Brain Injury Assoc.
  • CASA – Caring and Sharing Association
  • Central Remedial Clinic
  • Centre for Independent Living Mayo
  • Centre for Independent Living Tipperary
  • Centre for Independent Living Carmichael House
  • Cheeverstown House Ltd
  • COPE Foundation
  • Co Roscommon Support Group for People with disabilities
  • Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland
  • DeafHear.ie
  • DEBRA Ireland
  • Disabled Drivers Association
  • Disabled People of Clare
  • Doorway to Life Ltd
  • Down Syndrome Ireland
  • Dyslexia Association of Ireland
  • Enable Ireland
  • Fighting Blindness
  • Focus Ireland
  • Friedreich”s Ataxia Society of Ireland
  • Genetic and Rare Disorders Organisation
  • HAIL Housing Association for Integrated Living
  • Headway Ireland
  • Huntington”s Disease Association of Ireland
  • Irish Deaf Society
  • Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind
  • Irish Haeomophilia Society
  • Irish Kidney Association
  • Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association
  • Irish Raynaud”s and Scleroderma Society
  • Irish Society for Autism
  • Irish Wheelchair Association
  • Jack and Jill Children”s Foundation
  • KARE
  • Leitrim Association of People with Disabilities
  • Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland
  • Muscular Dystrophy Ireland
  • National Council for the Blind of Ireland
  • National Federation of Arch Clubs
  • Neurofibromatosis Association of Ireland
  • North West MS Therapy Centre
  • Parkinson”s Association of Ireland
  • Peter Bradley Foundation
  • Post Polio Support Group
  • Reach Ireland Rehab Group
  • Royal Hospital Donnybrook
  • SHINE (Schizophrenia Ireland)
  • Sophia Housing Association Ltd
  • Special Olympics Ireland
  • Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland
  • Spinal Injuries Ireland
  • St Catherine”s Association
  • St Gabriel”s School and Centre
  • St Michael”s House
  • Vantastic Ltd
  • Vergemount Housing Fellowship
  • Walkinstown Association
  • Western Care Association

General Members

  • Ability West
  • ACTS (Accessible Community Transport Southside)
  • Anne Sullivan Centre
  • Arklow Disability Action Group
  • Bluestack Special Needs Foundation
  • Bodywhys
  • Care Alliance Ireland
  • Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups
  • Centre for Independent Living Blanchardstown
  • Centre for Independent Living Carlow
  • Centre for Independent Living Cork
  • Centre for Independent Living Donegal
  • Centre for Independent Living Dublin 7
  • Centre for Independent Living Kilkenny
  • Centre for Independent Living Galway
  • Centre for Independent Living Offaly
  • Centre for Independent Living Sligo
  • Centre for Independent Living Waterford
  • Centre for Independent Living Wexford
  • Cheshire Ireland
  • Children in Hospital Ireland
  • Cork Accessible Transport
  • Crosscare Cedar Programme
  • Diabetes Federation of Ireland Southern Region
  • Dyspraxia Association of Ireland
  • Express Yourself Ltd
  • Extra Care
  • Féach
  • Fibromyalgia Support Group (Midlands)
  • FICTA - Federation of Irish Complementary Therapy Associations
  • GROW
  • Heart Children Ireland
  • Health Action Overseas
  • ICARE (Inishowen Children”s Autism Related Education Institute for Disability & Senior Citizens Ltd.
  • Irish Electromagnetic Radiation Victims Network
  • Irish Hard of Hearing Association
  • Lucan Disability Action Group
  • Mid West Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association
  • Migraine Association of Ireland
  • Neurological Alliance of Ireland
  • Noinin Support for Autism
  • North West Stroke Club
  • Oglaigh Náisiunta na hEireann Teo (ONET)
  • Out and About Association
  • Peacehaven Trust
  • Rathmines Community Partnership
  • Sonas APC Ltd
  • St Joseph”s Centre for the Visually Impaired
  • St Mary”s Centre (Telford)
  • The Carers Association

DFI Associates

  • John Grooms

New Organisations Admitted to Membership in 2010

  • Voluntary Services International
  • Catholic Institute for Deaf People (CIDP)
  • West Limerick Independent Living

Staff and Contact Details

National Office
Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 4547978 Fax: 01 4547981
Email: info@disability-federation.ie
Web: www.disability-federation.ie

Management Team
John Dolan Chief Executive Officer Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Allen DunneSenior Executive Officer - Operational

Joanne McCarthy Senior Executive Officer Policy and Research

Denis Cadogan Corporate Services & ICT Manager

Administration Support Team
Aaron Browne

Jacinta Dixon

Cathy McGrath

Mary Redmond

Alison Ryan

Eleanor Reece

Mairéad Holohan

John Doyle

Support Officers
Support Officer - Policy: Lillian Buchanan
Tel: 01 4547978
Email: lillianbuchanan@disability-federation.ie

Support Officer - Member Organisation Support: Dermot O”Donnell
Tel: 01 4547978
Email: dermotodonnell@disability-federation.ie

Eastern Region
Support Officers for the Dublin, north East and Mid Leinster Regions
are based in the National Office in Dublin

Dublin North Central, Dublin north, Dublin West
Support Officer: Martin Naughton
Tel: 01 4547978, Mobile: 086 8207196
Email: martinnaughton@disability-federation.ie

Dun laoghaire, Dublin south East, Wicklow
Support Officer: Anthony Carrick
Tel: 01 4547978. Direct Line: 01 7090101, Mobile: 086 8206736
Email: anthonycarrick@disability-federation.ie

Dublin City, Dublin West, Kildare / West Wicklow
Support Officer: Louise McCann
Tel: 01 4547978, Direct Line: 01 4250126, Mobile: 086 9189750
Email: louisemccann@disability-federation.ie

Meath, Louth, Cavan, Monaghan
Support Officer: Joan O”Donnell,
DFI, Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 4547978, Direct Line: 01 4520122, Mobile: 086 3834587
Email: joanodonnell@disability-federation.ie

laois, offaly, longford, Westmeath
Support Officer: Jacqueline Thomson
DFI, Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Tel: 01 4547978, Direct Line: 01 7080108, Mobile: 086 3882600 Email: jacquelinethomson@disability-federation.ie
South East / South Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford

Support Officer: P.J. Cleere,
DFI, Tinryland, Carlow
Tel: 059 9179431, Mobile: 086 3811064
Email: pjcleere@disability-federation.ie

Cork, Kerry
Support Officer: Alison Ryan,
DFI, C/o CIB, 101 North Main St., Cork
Tel: 021 4271752; Mobile: 086 3816323
Email: a.ryan@disability-federation.ie

West / Mid-West
Galway, Mayo, Roscommon
Support Officer: Michael Corbett,
DFI, Acres, Newport, Co Mayo
Tel: 098 41919 Fax: 098 41065 086 3804750
Email: michaelcorbett@disability-federation.ie

Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal
Support Officer: Marcus Hufsky,
DFI, St. Vincent”s Business Park, Finisklin Road, Sligo
Tel: 071 9144614, Mobile: 086 3811261
EMail: marcushufsky@disability-federation.ie

Tipprary n.r., Limerick, Clare
Support Officer: Toni Gleeson
DFI, “The Forge”, Croke Street Thurles Co Tipperary.
Tel: 0504 22977. Mobile 086-6004526
Email tonigleeson@disability-federation.ie


We wish to acknowledge the following representatives for their co-operation and work with DFI during the year.

DFI Representatives on HSE Regional Physical and Sensory Disability Co-Ordinating Committees

North East area south East
Joan O”Donnell (DFI) P.J. Cleere (DFI)
Noreen O”Donnell, (Brainwave) Katie Hourigan, (MS Societ Ireland)
Fiona Hoey (Monaghan Access CIL ) Nan Sibbald (CIL Carlow)

Midlands Mid West

  • Jacqueline Thomson (DFI)
  • Toni Gleeson (DFI)
  • Margaret Bassett, (Brainwave)
  • Anna Kelly (Brainwave)
  • Ann Marie Flanagan, (c)

West North West
Gretta Allen (MS Society Mid West) Alternate Marcus Hufsky (DFI)
Michael Corbett (DFI) Rosaleen Kielty (Leitrim Association)
Aidan Larkin (MS Ireland) Alternate Agnes Mooney (Brainwave)
Brian Crummy (PPSG) Alternate

South East Coast
Alison Ryan (DFI) Anthony Carrick (DFI)
Carmel Coughlan (MS Society) Barbara Flynn (Friedreich”s Ataxia
Liz Owens (Headway Ireland) Alternate Society)
Trudi Renshaw (MDI) Helen McCarthy (Headway Ireland)
Kate Power (MDI) Alternate

North Dublin South West

  • Martin Naughton (DFI)
  • Louise McCann (DFI)
  • Joe T Mooney (MDI)
  • Joan Bradley (PPSG)
  • Karen Holmes (Post Polio Support Group)
  • Michael Kavanagh, (Peter Bradley
  • Sean Kinsella (MS Society)
  • Alternate Foundation)

HSE Local Consultative Committees

Carlow / Kilkenny Waterford

  • Daniela Cooney (CRC)
  • Mary Whittles (Waterford CIL)
  • Nan Sibbald (CIL Carlow)
  • Annette Russell (Brainwave)
  • Catherine O”Hare (Headway)

Wexford Tipperary South

  • Doreen Costello (IASBAH)
  • Mary Heffernan (ABI Ireland)
  • Declan Denny (Wexford CIL)
  • Catherine O”Hare (Headway)
  • Yvonne Rossiter (ADI Ireland)
  • Annette Russell (Brainwave)

Regional Physical and Sensory Database Committee

  • Jo Ashby (MS Society)

We wish to acknowledge the following organisations and bodies for their co-operation and work with DFI during the year

  • Access Networks
  • Adare Human Resource Management
  • Age Action Ireland
  • Ageing Well Network
  • Áthas Project: Creative Arts Therapy Services for People with Disabilities
  • Boards of Management- County Childcare Committees
  • BoardMatch
  • Bray Advocacy Service
  • Bray Area Partnership Disability Cluster Group
  • CIB Advocacy Projects
  • Consortium of Physical and Sensory Disabilities in Donegal
  • Carers Association
  • Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups
  • Centre for Inclusive Technology (CFIT)
  • Centres for Independent Living
  • Citizens Information Board
  • Children”s Rights Alliance
  • Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
  • Clondalkin Partnership: Equality Working Group; Disability Network
  • Community and Voluntary Forums
  • Community Development Projects
  • County Development Boards (CDBs)
  • Community Partnerships
  • Community Platform
  • Community Workers” Co-Operative
  • Communications Regulator - ComReg Forum
  • Congress Centres Network
  • County Childcare Committees
  • County Sports Partnerships
  • Dáil and Seanad Eireann
  • Dept of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
  • Dept of Communications, Marine& Natural Resources
  • Dept of Education and Science
  • Dept of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
  • Dept of Social and Family Affairs
  • Dept of the Taoiseach
  • Dept of Transport
  • Disability Stakeholders Group
  • Disability Stakeholders Monitoring Group
  • Directors of Community and Enterprise
  • Dormant Accounts Disbursement Board
  • Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency (DESSA)
  • Dochas Disability International Development Working Group
  • Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Disability Consultation Group
  • Enterprise Boards
  • European Association of Service Providers for People with Disabilities (EASPD)
  • European Parliament Office (Ireland)
  • Health Service Executive Disability Services
  • Family Resource Centres
  • FÁS Regional Networks
  • Gateway Advisory Committee
  • Rathmines Partnership
  • Genetic and Rare Disorders Organisation
  • Healthy Fingal Group
  • Helpline Network
  • Ilikecake
  • Institute of Public Chartered Accountants
  • Institute of Public Administration
  • Irish Association of Supported Employment
  • Irish Charities Tax Research Limited
  • Irish Council for Social Housing
  • Irish Hospice Foundation
  • Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed
  • Irish Rural Link
  • Irish Senior Citizens Parliament
  • Inclusion Ireland
  • IT Carlow Access and Equality Committee
  • Kildare County Childcare Project Evaluation Sub-Committee
  • Kathleen and Michael Connolly Foundation, Donegal
  • Laois Sports Partnership: Disability Sub-Committee
  • Local Authority Access Audit Groups
  • Mental Health Ireland
  • Monaghan Access Centre for Independent Living
  • National Association of Building Co-Operatives
  • National Disability Authority
  • National Economic and Social Council (NESC)
  • National Economic and Social Forum (NESF)
  • National Federation of Voluntary Bodies Providing Services to People with Intellectual Disabilities
  • National Physical and Sensory Database Committee
  • National Women”s Council of Ireland
  • National Youth Council of Ireland
  • Not for Profit Business Association
  • National Implementation Group for the Assessment of Need
  • National Learning Network
  • National Representative Council Advocacy Project
  • National Advisory Group (NAG) on Independent Living
  • Office for Disability and Mental Health
  • Office of the Minister for Children and Older People
  • Parents” Networks
  • Partnership Companies
  • People with Disabilities in Ireland Ltd
  • Protestant Aid
  • Pobal
  • Rathmines Partnership
  • Society of St Vincent de Paul
  • Social Inclusion Measures (SIMS) Groups
  • Social Inclusion Network, South Dublin County Council
  • Social Justice Ireland (formerly CORI Justice)
  • Support Agency Board of Management – South East
  • Sports Partnership Ability Forums
  • Tallaght Advocacy Service
  • Vocational Education Committees
  • Volunteer Management Committees
  • The Wheel
  • Wicklow Access Group
  • Wicklow Disability Group
  • Westmeath Advocacy for Mental Health – CIB Advocacy Project
  • Westmeath Disability Working Group
  • Wexford Local Development Partnership
  • Youth Services

DFI is a member of the following organisations

  • Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH)
  • European Association of Service Providers to People with Disabilities (EASPD)
  • Irish Charity Tax Research Group (ICTRG)
  • The Wheel
  • The Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups

The union of Voluntary Organisations for the Handicapped T/A Disability Federation of Ireland

APPENDIX I Financial Statements

Balance Sheet as at 31 December 2009
Tangible Assets618,03733, 506
Current Assets   
Debtors (Amount falling due within one year)752,72399,911
Cash at bank and in hand82,187,0381,463,004
Current Liabilities   
Creditors (Amounts falling due within one year)9123,050181, 580
Deferred Income 206,244187,475
SKILL grants deferred and held on behalf of members participating in the SKILL programme1553,00079,000
Net Current Assets 1,357,4671,114,860
Net Assets 1,375,5041,148,366
Accumulated Funds - unrestricted10157, 526157, 526
Designated reserves111,217,978990, 840

The financial statements were approved by the Board of Directors on 8 April 2010 and signed on its behalf by

Paul Ledwidge, Director
Anne Winslow, Director

Collaborative Projects


DFI recognises the central role Local Government has to play in the provision and co-ordination of services to people with disabilities in a mainstream environment. DFI was involved in many projects with Local Authorities, including SIMs Groups, Partnerships. These activities included:

  • Access Issues: Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Wexford Access Movement and universal implementation teams around the South-East: To raise and progress access issues and to support the implementation of the Local Access Strategies with the Local Authorities
  • Disability Seminar: South Dublin County Development Board / SIMS Group, other key agencies - Disability Seminar, ''Connection Services to People with Disabilities Living and Working in South Dublin County''
  • Disability Fair: Dublin City Council with Ballyfermot Advocacy Project / Ballyfermot Partnership, DSFA, HSE, DoEHLG - To promote disability services, create disability awareness and get feedback from local people with disabilities on Sectoral Plans
  • Accessibility and Awareness Projects: Fingal County Council with HSE, Fingal Development Board, Fingal Community Forum, Fingal Access for All Implementation Group - Projects to promote access to disability services, other services, awareness, and access to health activities for local people
  • Disability Fair and Seminar: North Tipperary Cluster of the Community and Voluntary Association – production of Disability Contacts Poster for North Tipperary and Mid-West Region
  • “Giving Stereotyping the Boot” Project: With the Equality Authority and PAUL Partnership. Two events, in Limerick City and Charleville, to coincide with the launch of the Ballyhours Community Advocacy Project


DFI is involved in a wide range of shared accommodation projects for disability organisations around the country these include

  • Shared Accommodation Project: Cork County Council, HSE and Sexual Health Centre - To create a space where the delivery of quality voluntary sector services in Cork will be enhanced
  • Mallow Resource and Outreach Centre: Mallow Resource and Outreach Centre: DFI with IWA, HSE, NCBI, MS Ireland, Avondu Development, Mallow Access Group, Cork Deaf Association and the National Learning Network - Development of Resource and Outreach Centre for Mallow Area
  • Multi-Purpose Centre in Inishowen: Consortium of Physical and Sensory • Disability Organisations in Donegal - Project to develop a multi purpose centre, and to employ a disability advocate
  • Shared Office Accommodation: Mosaic Project Group, VEC, Local Employment • Service, Mayo, RehabCare, Mayo CIL, WorkWeb West, South Mayo Development Company, Cuan Mobh - Project to provide shared office accommodation and other collaborative work, including projects in relation to policy development, joint purchasing, human resources and insurance projects


  • Citizens Information Centres - Advocacy Projects for people with Disabilities: Together with the Citizens Information Board (CIB) DFI was involved in over 20 advocacy projects around the country
  • DFI participated on the Citizens Information Board National Advisory Group to support the evaluation of the Community Advocacy Programme


  • Equality Sub-Group: Paul Partnership Equality Sub-Group – Stereotyping Project

Framework Regional Support Agency : Member of the Board of Management. Support cooperation between voluntary disability organisations and social inclusion organisations in the South East

  • South and Mid-West Community Development Support Agency: DFI Mid-West Support Officer acts as Chairperson of the Management Committee – regional support to community groups and family resource centres in the South and Mid-West Regions
  • Sports Partnerships: Supporting Ability Forums and direct collaboration with the Social Inclusion Disability Officers in the planning and promotion of activities and strategies. Represented on some Sports Partnerships
  • West Limerick Resources Partnership Company: Member of the Disability Cluster of West Limerick Resources, County Limerick based
  • DESSA and International Services Ireland: Supporting Seminars and the development and launch of Putting the World to Rights, a publication which tells the real-life stories of people around the world and noting the relevance of the UN Convention on People with Disabilities to their lives www.is-ireland.ie
  • Carers Strategy Consultation Group: Inter-departmental Consultation Group set up to develop a Carers Strategy
  • Cashel Gold Star Award for Accessibility: HSE Community Development Department - Collaboration in the provision of workshops on disability awareness training, participation in forums and promotion of the project across all activities in the region
  • Healthy Fingal Group: Working with Healthy Fingal Group to promote and raise awareness of healthy activities for all local people

Other Collaborative Projects

DFI has also been involved in a range of other projects which have adapted a collaborative approach these include:

  • Carer”s Week: DFI became a partner in Carer”s Week 2009. This was a one week celebration of the valuable role that carers play in the lives of those with whom they have a caring role. The week is organised by Care Alliance on a national basis and involves events throughout the country.
  • Publication - “Keeping the Books”: The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA ) with Carmichael Centre - Publication of a resource for the Community and Voluntary Sector
  • Accessibility and Availability of Taxis for People with Disabilities: Over the course of 2008 the Accessible Taxi Consortium met on a number of occasions to progress the issue of accessibility and availability of taxis for people with disabilities. Among the activities of the consortium were a meeting with Senior Officials from the Department of Transport as well as a regular information exchange and meeting schedule with the Commissioner for Taxi Regulation. Members of the consortium also brought a number of parliamentary questions forward.
  • TV Access: A group of organisations, NCBI, DFI, Central Remedial Clinic, Irish Deaf Society, Age Action Ireland, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, DeafHear.ie, Irish Hard of Hearing Association, People with Disabilities in Ireland, Kildare Access Association - TV Access for All ( A project to ensure access to television programmes), have made representation to Government to ensure the accessibility of digital television for people with disabilities, including presenting at the Select Committee for the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
  • National Advisory Group on Independent Living (NAG): Working to develop a partnership approach to understanding the philosophy of Independent Living and incorporating its values and ethos into service developments for people with disabilities.

Board Management, Support Officers and Support Staff 2010


  • Paul Ledwidge Chairperson (St. Michael”s House)
  • Maurice O”Connell Vice-Chairperson(Alzheimer Society of Ireland)
  • Anne Winslow Hon. Treasure (Multiple Sclerosis Ireland)
  • Desmond Kenny (National Council for the Blind of Ireland)
  • Joe T Mooney (Muscular Dystrophy Ireland)
  • George Kennedy (IASBAH)
  • Kieran Loughran (Headway Ireland)
  • Don Bailey (Vantastic Ltd)
  • Mike Glynn (Brainwave)
  • Anne Coffey (KARE)
  • Cliodhna O”Neill ReHab Group


  • John Dolan Chief Executive Officer
  • Allen Dunne Deputy Chief Executive Officer / SEO – Operational
  • Joanne McCarthy SEO - Policy and Research
  • Denis Cadogan Corporate Service & ICT Manager

Support staff

  • Mairéad Holohan
  • John Doyle
  • Mary Redmond
  • Alison Ryan
  • Jacinta Dixon
  • Cathy McGrath
  • Aaron Browne
  • Eleanor Reece

Support Officers

  • Alison Ryan
  • Michael Corbett
  • Jacqueline Thomson
  • Lillian Buchanan
  • Louise McCann
  • Anthony Carrick
  • P.J. Cleere
  • Dermot O”Donnell
  • Toni Gleeson
  • Joan O”Donnell
  • Martin Naughton
  • Marcus Hufsky

The 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

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:

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

There are 123 organisations within membership or as associates of DFI. DFI also works with a growing number of organisations and groups around the country that have a significant disability interest, mainly from the statutory and voluntary sectors. DFI provides:

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

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.

Disability Federation of Ireland
Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8
Tel: 01-4547978 Fax: 01-4547981
Email: info@disability-federation.ie Web: www.disability-federation.ie