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Tristan Casson-Rennie, Scott Casson-Rennie and Robert O'Connell of FASD Ireland

Funding boost for FASD in Ennis

ENNIS-based FASD Ireland, the country’s first national hub to support individuals, families and carers living with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), is to be awarded €200,000 in funding.
The announcement was made by Minister for Disability Anne Rabbitte (FF) in the Dáil recently. Minister Rabbitte said, “Approximately €200,000 in funding will be awarded to the FASD Ireland in Clare for the national hub. I commend the work it has done in putting in place the telephone line and supporting families when there is such a deficit in Departments and the HSE in terms of taking on the mantle of providing support. I compliment the team in Clare on what it is doing. I am very supportive of it.”
Welcoming the announcement, CEO of FASD Ireland, Tristan Casson-Rennie, said, “I am delighted that Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder has been discussed in detail in Dáil Éireann. FASD Ireland has some key asks of Government, importantly that FASD is recognised as a disability in Ireland as it is in the rest of the developed world, that the HSE develops statutory guidelines for diagnosis of FASD, and that supports are in place for people living with the condition.”
FASD is Ireland’s most prevalent neuro-developmental disability, with an estimated 240,000 people living with the condition. Ireland has the third highest prevalence globally, following only South Africa and Croatia.
Despite the significant numbers of people living with the condition in Ireland, there is still no formal diagnosis pathway for people who think they may have FASD, and very little supports for people who live with the condition.
During the Dáil debate, Independent Clare TD, Violet-Anne Wynne sought confirmation that the condition will be given classification as a disability, as it is currently not, and confirmation of financial support for the organisation.
Deputy Wynne said, “Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, known as FASD, is Ireland’s silent epidemic and is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. FASD is lifelong brain damage for which there is no cure or treatment and according to the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017, Ireland has the third highest prevalence of people living with FASD in the world at 4.75%, behind Croatia at 5.3% and South Africa at 11.1%.”
She continued, “Alarmingly, Ireland is the only country in the developed world that does not recognise FASD as a neurodevelopmental disability. The HSE does not currently have any statutory guidelines for diagnosis, there are no specialist clinicians or diagnosis pathway and few support services for people living with the condition.
Minister Rabbitte also confirmed that for now her Department will have responsibility for FASD policy, and recognised the urgent need for other departments within government to also share responsibilities for the condition.
The announcement comes only weeks after the first anniversary of the national FASD Hub opening in Ennis, providing support to over 800 people living with FASD, their parents, carers and professionals working with families.
Casson-Rennie continued, “With the confirmation of financial support from the Department we can continue our work to raise awareness of FASD and to provide support through FASD Hub Ireland, our national telephone helpline to people living with the condition, their families and professionals who work with them. We are overjoyed to receive this significant funding to provide our services through 2024, and look forward to a SLA being established for the years ahead. This money will allow us to develop our team and expand our headquarters in Ennis, County Clare. I would like to thank Minister Rabbitte for her continued support, and Deputy Violet Ann Wynne for submitting the Topical Question.”
FASD Ireland is a not for profit social enterprise based in Ennis, providing support nationally to people living with FASD, their parents, carers and professionals working with families.
The FASD Hub is available to all, Monday to Friday 10am until 4pm, by phone on 065 6703098 or online www.fasdhub.ie.

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