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Policy needed for people with intellectual disabilities

IN light of the recent illuminating reports in the media regarding the state of intellectual disabilities service provision nationally — we, the undersigned, are calling for the establishment of a properly researched, properly informed policy regarding the future needs of people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland.

Such a policy however it is developed, should clearly inform a new strategic direction for the future provision of services for people with intellectual disabilities. It seems absolutely scandalous and wholly incredible that it has been 20 years since any government in our country has produced a specific policy regarding the needs of people with intellectual disabilities. Needs and Abilities: A Policy for the Intellectually Disabled was published in 1990. Since then we have had Celtic Tigers, Special Olympic World Games and Disability Acts, but there has been no policy direction from any government which specifically addresses the needs of people intellectual disability in our society. Much has changed in the area of intellectual disabilities over the past 20 years — service models and philosophies have changed radically internationally — there has been an explosion of research in the area also. If we are to enable people with intellectual disabilities to live inclusive lives, the government of day needs to develop a current policy in this area. We ask Minister John Moloney, Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health to put in place the mechanisms which will lead to development of a well-informed 21st century policy regarding how our state will meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities in our society.

Paul Horan, Dr Fintan Sheerin and Colin Griffiths
Lecturers in Intellectual Disability Nursing School of Nursing & Midwifery
Trinity College
24 D’Olier St, Dublin 2