It is with some trepidation that I take up the editorial reins of The Frontline of Learning Disability. The primary question that floats around my mind is how do you follow an act like that? Máiríde has contributed to Frontline since its inception 14 years ago. She has written perceptively and wisely from multiple perspectives on intellectual disability; her understandings and insight will be much missed. Mary has edited Frontline for the past six years. She is the longest serving editor and has kept the magazine afloat through good times and bad. It is ironic that her last issue was the first in colour, and it is a tribute to her persistence that this came to pass during her tenure. But Mary’s editorship has been about much more than the superficialities. Mary has presided over some issues that have examined the state of play of services for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland; she has persisted in the uncovering of the reality of what it is like to obtain services in the early 21st century, and she has done this with a style and panache that is distinctive, witty and incisive. Fortunately Mary has agreed to remain on the board of Frontline and will be taking over as literary editor. So farewell then, Mary and Máiríde—enjoy the rest, but don’t forget we still need your wisdom.
What does the future hold for Frontline? Well the finest compliment that can be paid to Mary and Máiríde is to ensure a continuity with the past. Frontline has always tried to offer a comprehensive view of the intellectual disability field in Ireland and that heritage will be continued and deepened. All who are committed to the provision of the best services for people with intellectual disabilities are welcome to contribute to these pages. Frontline will continue to bring new ideas, concepts and research to the fore. Researchers across the island are invited to submit papers. Frontline is also committed to giving a voice to service users; this edition expands the Peoples’ Pages to four, in order to give expression to this commitment. Frontline will seek to inspire and hold debate regarding how things should go forward. How best can government be held to account to provide for the highest standards of service in this country? And how best can those who offer the services be enabled to do so?
Lastly Frontline will offer you the readers a forum where you can write letters, articles, send pictures, stories and opinions that you think can contribute to the great going forward as we stand at the start of the 21st century.
This issue has no special focus, but looks at matters relating to inclusion—most particularly with regard to education. Thus the role of special needs assistants in schools is considered in some detail. Inclusion is a multifaceted phenomenon, and that is reflected in two papers that examine it from different standpoints. The understanding of important issues for people with intellectual disabilities is enhanced by viewing them from different aspects and it is my hope that analyses of new and developing approaches in Ireland may be facilitated in the pages of Frontline in the future.