Irish attitudes to sexual relationships and people with intellectual disability

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Limited progress has been made in supporting people with intellectual disabilities to form intimate relationships. A critical factor that has been rarely researched is the attitude of the general public which likely has a significant influence on public policy on this issue. Unique to Ireland, are the five-yearly national surveys commissioned by the National Disability Authority that recruit representative samples of over 1000 adult persons. On three occasions in the past 10 years, respondents were asked to rate their agreement that people with various disabilities and with mental health difficulties had the right to fulfilment through sexual relationships and to have children if they wished. Secondary analysis of the 2011 data set identified those persons who were more likely to be in agreement and also the concerns raised by respondents. The findings are discussed in relation to priorities for future research and actions needed to reduce the stigma associated with disability or mental ill health.

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