Any birthday occasion is a time to celebrate, a 50th birthday is even more special and when you have a proud record of achievement in advocating for the vindication of the rights of people with intellectual disability over this time, as Inclusion Ireland has, then you have indeed a very special anniversary to celebrate.
People with intellectual disabilities, and their families, have travelled a long road and fought very hard for their right to be treated as equal citizens of this State. Inclusion Ireland has been in the vanguard in supporting them in the struggle and, while there is still some road to travel before this objective is finally and truly achieved, Inclusion Ireland can be justifiably proud of its many achievements to date and is worthy of all the commendations—not least from our immediate past President, her Excellency Mary McAleese—which it has received during 2011.
The Board, Executive and every member organisation of the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies Providing Services to People with Intellectual Disability, would like to pay the highest tribute to Inclusion Ireland for all its pioneering work over the past 50 years. Our National Federation has a long association with Inclusion Ireland and has collaborated with it on many important initiatives over the years. Our cooperative effort, which was sustained over the early part of the last decade to highlight to government the needs of people with intellectual disability who were on waiting lists for services, resulted in the biggest single investment by government in the development of new services for people with intellectual disability and autism in Ireland’s history. We have also collaborated with Inclusion Ireland to advocate for appropriate services for those people with intellectual disability who continue to reside in congregated settings—work which culminated in the publication of the important policy document Time to move on, the report on congregated settings in Ireland. Inclusion Ireland was also to the forefront in advocating for more appropriate day supports for people with intellectual disability in Ireland and their work in advocating for reform in the laws relating to legal capacity has rightly been acknowledged by all, both inside and outside the sector, as being of the highest quality.
The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies is delighted to have shared a strong bond of friendship with the Inclusion Ireland over the past 50 years and we look forward to maintaining and deepening this friendship as we face the many challenges which lie ahead for people with intellectual disability and their families in the months and years ahead. We extend to the Board of Inclusion Ireland, and the Executive Team so capably led by Deirdre Carroll, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairperson Frieda Finlay, our heartiest congratulations and sincere best birthday wishes on this occasion and wish them every success in the future.
At the launch of their 50th anniversary celebrations, Frieda Finlay said: ‘It was the pioneering spirit of the founding members in 1961 that saw the need for change and set up NAMHI. 50 years on, that spirit remains and Inclusion Ireland is determined not to rest easy until rights, independence, dignity and equality are achieved for people with intellectual disabilities.’ The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies couldn’t agree more with this statement and we stand in solidarity with Inclusion Ireland at this important time in its proud history and commit ourselves to working closely with it towards the achievement of this goal.
Above: President Mary McAleese with members of Inclusion Ireland at the launch of their 50th anniversary in January 2011.