Statement: The Brandon Report highlights the urgent need for Safeguarding legislation and the continued development of rights-based models of support in intellectual disability services

(21 Dec 2021)

Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Ireland has ratified, enshrines the rights of people with disabilities to “freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse”.

In the context of these fundamental human rights, the findings of the executive summary of the recently published National Independent Review Panel – Brandon Report are of deep concern and distress. The report details failures in upholding the right to freedom from abuse for those people with intellectual disabilities concerned.

Every individual with an intellectual disability deserves to have their dignity, bodily integrity, safety and autonomy respected, and where a person is vulnerable, to have adequate and reliable safeguards in place to ensure their safety and dignity.

The Brandon report illustrates inadequacies in safeguarding provisions and serious consequences for individuals when that safeguarding was insufficient. There is no room for complacency from any individuals or organisations supporting people with intellectual disabilities or other vulnerable adults. Safeguarding legislation should be introduced and enacted without delay.

Fundamentally, there is a need for people with intellectual disabilities to be supported in a rights-based, social model of support, along with the required safeguards. This need is borne out by the report. The report underscores the urgency and importance of supporting people to move out of congregated settings to living in the community with the appropriate supports required. The viability of the transformation to appropriate person centred and individualised models of support has been demonstrated for many people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland to date. The Brandon report should bring further urgency to ensuring people with an intellectual disability are supported to live in the community, with the appropriate supports as required. 

We welcome the report’s recommendation of the establishment of a strategic working group tasked with developing a new vision for disability services in this area in line with national policy.





Article 16 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is specific in its requirements. The Convention requires the following: 

  1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including their gender-based aspects.
  2. States Parties shall also take all appropriate measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse by ensuring, inter alia, appropriate forms of gender- and age-sensitive assistance and support for persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers, including through the provision of information and education on how to avoid, recognize and report instances of exploitation, violence and abuse. States Parties shall ensure that protection services are age-, gender- and disability-sensitive.
  3. In order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties shall ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities.
  4. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote the physical, cognitive and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons with disabilities who become victims of any form of exploitation, violence or abuse, including through the provision of protection services. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment that fosters the health, welfare, self-respect, dignity and autonomy of the person and takes into account gender- and age-specific needs.
  5. States Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women- and child-focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.

The National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers Supporting People with Intellectual Disability is the national umbrella organisation of not-for-profit agencies providing direct supports and services to people with intellectual disability in Ireland. Across almost 60 organisations, our members support more than 26,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities and their families, providing services and supports throughout the lifespan. National Federation member organisations have community presence and connection across large urban centres and small villages throughout Ireland. [CHY14080]


Contact:  Dr Alison Harnett, CEO National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers


Twitter: @NatFedVolBodies

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