United Nations Conventions and Children

There have been a number of considerable advances in the legal framework to protect children’s rights over the past number of years.

These include:

  • Constitutional amendments giving explicit expression to the rights of children as individuals.

  • Progressive legislation such as:
    • The Child and Family Agency Act 2013

    • The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015

    • The Childcare Support Act 2018

Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. Article 23 of this convention requires states to ensure children with disabilities have:

“Effective access to and receives education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities in a manner conducive to the child’s achieving the fullest possible social integration and individual development.”

The ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by Ireland in 2018 with a specific article on children and disabilities adds further emphasis to the rights of children.

Article 7 of the UNCRPD relates to Children with Disabilities. It requires states to consider the best interests of children with disabilities and to ensure that their voice is heard in decisions concerning them.

We produced an overview of this article in 2020 detailing the main data available relevant to children in Ireland. We also provided an overview of key policies, programmes, services, supports and data that exist in the Irish context (see link below).

Another paper of interest published in 2015 by the ESRI and commissioned by the NDA provides Insights into the lives of children with disabilities. This study used data from the 2006 National Disability Survey.

Read our Series of Papers on Individual UNCRPD Articles

Review of Overage Exemptions

The NDA was asked by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to review the issues around “overage exemptions” for children with disabilities taking part in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.

Education Research

We have undertaken research on various aspects of education for children with disabilities including bullying, transitions to life after school and parental expectations.

Research with Children with Disabilities

In accordance with our statutory role in relation to disability research, the NDA funded the Children’s Research Centre in Trinity College to develop a set of guidelines for good practice in researching children with disabilities, along with a practical checklist for researchers and a comprehensive discussion paper on issues arising.


We make various submissions on matters relating to children with disabilities.