Independent Living Movement Ireland

Key Statistics


There were a total of 643,131 disabled people in April 2016, accounting for 13.5 per cent of the population recorded in Census 2016. This represented an increase of 47,796 persons (8%) on the 2011 figure of 595,335. In 2016, 311,580 (48.4%) disabled people were male while 331,551 (51.6%) were female.

By age, there were 59,086 disabled people aged 0-14; 359,657 disabled people aged 15-64 and 224,388 aged 65 years and over. Up to one in ten people in Ireland under the age of 45 are disabled and rising over 20% by the age of 60.


According to the Census 2016 disabled people have poorer educational outcomes in comparison to non-disabled people. Amongst disabled people aged 15 to 50 (inclusive), 13.7 per cent had completed no higher than primary level education, compared with 4.2 per cent of the general population.

Disabled people were less likely to complete third level education, with 37 per cent educated to this level, compared with 53.4 per cent of the general population aged 15 to 50 (inclusive).

5.4% of disabled persons aged 15 to 50 (inclusive) left full-time education before reaching the age of 15, compared with 1.9 per cent for the national average. Also, almost 47 per cent of disabled people had finished their education between the ages of 15 and 18, compared with 37.7 per cent of the general population


A report published by the ESRI last year found that disabled people in Ireland are four times less likely to be employed. The report found that, despite wanting to work, disabled people are less likely to get a job. In 2017, 31 per cent of working-age disabled people were at work compared to 71 per cent of non-disabled people.


Due to barriers to accessing education and employment and with the added costs of disability, disabled people are one of the groups most at risk of deprivation and consistent poverty. Research from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC)

In 2016, 21.0% of the population experienced two or more types of enforced deprivation. Whilst information is not detailed, the SILC showed in comparison those who were not at work due to illness or disability (46.7%) also had high deprivation rates in 2016.

The consistent poverty rate in 2016 was 8.3% but the highest consistent poverty was found to be among individuals not at work due to illness or disability (26.3%).

Personal Assistant Services

The Personal Assistance Service (PAS) is a tool that allows disabled people to live independently. The PAS provides us with the freedom and flexibility needed to live our lives as we chose as it enables us to do all the tasks that we cannot do for ourselves.

According to information submitted by the HSE to the Committee on Public Petitions in 2017, 1.51 million service hours were delivered to 2,470 people.

The allocation of hours of personal assistance were broken down as follows:
  • Number of leaders in receipt of 1 – 5 hours per week: 1,097 (44.41% of total)
  • Number of leaders in receipt of 6 – 10 hours per week 570 (23.07%)
  • Number of leaders in receipt of 11 – 20 per week: 419 (16.96%)
  • Number of leaders in receipt of 21 – 40 per week: 241 (9.75%)
  • Number of leaders in receipt of 41 – 60 hours per week: 67 (2.71%)
  • Number of leaders in receipt of 60 hours plus: 65 (2.63%)

84.44% of all Leaders in receipt of personal assistance service received less than three hours per day on average, with 44.41% of leaders in receipt of 42 minutes per day on average.

It is clear that anyone who receives an average of 42 minutes per day is not going to be able to live independently, access education or employment or become involved in meaningful social engagement. Disabled people with reduced services of this nature will become trapped in their own homes without the chance to interact and will be prone to isolation and depression.

Funding of €1.772 billion was allocated by the Health Service Executive (HSE) for disability services in the National Service Plan 2018. Of that, 89% of the budget was allocated to residential care and day services, with the remaining 11% allocated to respite care, personal assistance, home support services and community-based allied healthcare professional services.

Disability, Social Participation and Social Isolation

Research carried out by the National Disability Authority showed that disabled people were significantly less likely than those without a disability to have taken a holiday at home (36% vs. 53%) or abroad (28% vs. 50%) in the past 12 months, gone on a day trip (55% vs. 75%) or had a hobby (67% vs. 82%). They were also significantly less likely to access the internet (66% vs. 88%) or own a mobile phone (85% vs. 96%) although mobile phone ownership was high overall.

Whilst factors such as age, being from a higher socio-economic group, living in an urban area and higher life satisfaction increased the odds of participating in the above activities, being disabled was the most common factor associated with lack of participation- suggesting societal barriers being the key. This research also showed that disabled people were significantly more likely to be at high risk of social isolation as measured on the Lubben Social Network Scale-6. Thirty-two percent of disabled people are at risk of being socially isolated versus 22% nondisabled
Disabled people also reported a significantly lower level of satisfaction with life (7.3 versus 8.0 out of 10) and were less happy (7.4 versus 8.2 out of 10) than non-disabled people surveyed. A higher proportion of disabled people compared with non-disabled people felt tense (19% vs 4%), lonely (16% vs 4%), and downhearted and depressed (18% vs 4%). There was no variation in the levels of trust expressed between disabled people and non-disabled people. Disabled people reported more social isolation (32% versus 22%) and less participation in social activities than non-disabled people.

The Health Research Board National Physical and Sensory Disability Database (NPSDD) collates information that outlines the specialised health services currently used or needed by people with physical/sensory disability. Since 2004 the NPSDD introduced the Measure of Activity and Participation (MAP) for self-reporting the barriers and challenges to participation, participation restriction and the WHO disability assessment.
The Annual Report of the National Physical and Sensory Disability Database Committee 2016 shows that the climate/weather (4,532, 56.0%) and the physical environment (4,452, 55.0%) were found to be the greatest barriers to participation, followed by income (3,436, 42.5%).

Socialising (4,680, 57.8%), shopping (4,522, 55.9%), and sports or physical recreation (4,241, 52.4%) were the areas where participation restriction was most likely to be experienced. The WHODAS 2.0 captures information on the extent of difficulty with functioning in daily activities. As with participation, the extent of difficulty can be recorded as mild, moderate, severe, extreme/cannot do. The data presented below groups these four categories into one category of ‘some’ difficulty. The majority of people (6,980, 86.3%) reported that their difficulties ‘interfered with their lives overall’. The greatest areas of difficulty, in the 30 days prior to the NPSDD interview, were the emotional effect of disability (5,774, 71.4%), standing for long periods (5,810, 71.8%), and walking long distances (5,720, 70.7%).

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