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Social Inclusion Unit

This section includes information on:


What is Social Inclusion?


Donegal County Councils Social Inclusion Unit


Social Inclusion Measures (SIM) Group


Interagency Group on Traveller Issues


Donegal Age Friendly Alliance


Supporting Interculturalism


One Donegal - Social Inclusion Week




What is Social Inclusion?

Social inclusion is a term that can be used to describe a series of positive actions to achieve equality of access to goods and services, to assist all individuals to participate in community and society, to encourage the contribution of all persons to social and cultural life and to be aware of and to challenge all forms of discrimination. By ensuring that the marginalised and those living in poverty have greater participation in decision-making which affects their lives, will allow them to improve their standard of living and overall well-being.


What are the causes of social exclusion?

The below factors may increase an individual or groups chances of experiencing social exclusion:



Poor / low levels of education




Where you live (ie Urban poverty / rural disadvantage)

Belonging to an ethnic minority




Family status




Social Inclusion Unit

In existence since 2007, the Social inclusion Unit of Donegal County Council is staffed by Charles Sweeney, Social Inclusion Co-ordinator and Mairead Cranley, Assistant Social Inclusion Co-ordinator. Role of the SIU is to raise awareness about social inclusion and poverty and how they impact on the lives of people in Donegal so that we will be better equipped to deliver more inclusive services. This role is currently being achieved through the involvment of Council in multi agency structures such as the Social Inclusion Measures Implementation Group and the Interagency Group on Travellers Issues and through projects such as the Donegal Age Friendly Alliance and Social Inclusion Week.




Social Inclusion Measures Group

The Social Inclusion Measures group (SIM) is a sub-structure of Donegal County Development Board and aims to:  

  • Improve access to services for vulnerable individuals and target groups
  • Co-ordinate the cohesive delivery of activities by local agencies aimed at enhancing social inclusion
  • Feed into social inclusion aspects of CDB strategies
  • Endorse the work plans of Local Development Projects and Donegal County Childcare Committee
  • Promote actions to address poverty and social inclusion 


The Social Inclusion Unit coordinates and supports this group by convening meetings, including minute taking and facilitating workshops and  agreeing annual interagency work programmes with priority actions for each participating agency.




Interagency Group on Traveller Issues

The Donegal Interagency Group on Traveller Issues works in partnership with the Traveller Community to understand their issues and concerns.  It attempts to deliver more effective and efficient services, as well as identify barriers to service delivery, and where possible, eradicate these.  The group will also provide support to the Traveller community to develop culturally appropriate services, and promote equality of outcome for all Travellers within the county.

The remit of the Interagency Group of Travellers Issues is as follows:

  • To improve the co-ordination of local, Traveller specific and mainstream services, with the aim of establishing equal outcomes for Travellers.
  • To ensure cultural sensitivity and awareness, as well as non-discriminatory practice for Travellers, as part of the plan.
  • To ensure consultation and partnership with Travellers in decision making and influencing policy in relation to service provision.
  • To ensure local and national policies and practice are non-discriminatory towards Travellers.
  • To actively engage with Travellers in identifying actions which allow them to participate in mainstream society in a more meaningful way.
  • To promote the Interagency Framework to facilitate a collective response to crisis situations within and affecting the Traveller community.



Donegal Age Friendly Alliance

Donegal Age Friendly is a Donegal County Council led initiative with a new and ambitious strategy to improve the lives of all older people in Donegal.  This strategy has been produced following widespread consultation with all relevant sectors in the county, and will be implemented on a partnership and collaborative basis.

Donegal Age Friendly Strategy draws on eight themes of the World Health Organisation agreed framework see more – Age Friendly County Strategy

Supporting Interculturalism

Donegal County Council is committed to promoting and facilitating greater levels of interculturalism in Donegal.


The Councils commitment is outlined in the Donegal Diversity Plan 2011 -2013 which was developed under the auspices of Donegal County Development Board and was funded as part of the Donegal  PEACE III Action Plan 2008 – 2010.


Incident Reporting Scheme

Through the Social Inclusion Unit, Donegal County Council also co-ordinates the Donegal Independent and Confidential Incident Reporting Scheme for Racist and Sectarian Incidents


•If you someone you know has been the victim of a racist or sectarian incident or any kind of racist/sectarian discrimination it is your right to report it. 


•The scheme has been developed on an interagency basis with key stakeholders in the county. 


•This information may, at your discretion, be passed on to An Garda Síochana, and all reports will contribute to the development of future policy in this area.




Older Persons Council AGM 2019


The Older Persons Council held their AGM on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in the Mount Errigal Hotel at 11am. Despite the weather warning there was great attendance from Older Peoples Groups from all over Donegal.

The AGM was opened by the Cathaoirleach Cllr Seamus O’Donnell, who spoke about the positive work being carried out by the Older Persons Council Donegal. He went on to talk about Donegal’s aging population and how important it is for agencies to continue to work together in making Donegal a better place to grow old in.

Seamus Neely, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council and Chair of the Age Friendly Alliance spoke about the Donegal Age friendly Programme, that 3 year Age Friendly Strategy is currently being reviewed with the hope of launching it in the coming weeks.

Some of the projects he mentioned that were carried out were, the walkability audit in Letterkenny University Hospital, where new signage and the first Age Friendly Car Parking was installed. Letterkenny Town was the first age friendly town in Donegal with the role of the Business recognition training to all businesses. This is hoped to be extended across other towns within the county. Mr Neely mentioned that Age friendly training was provided to frontline staff in Donegal County Council and that the council launched an Older Persons information guide which was available to the people on the day.

Mr Neely spoke of the excellent work carried out by SITT. The Local Link bus has provided additional bus routes and services for Older People in the rural areas which allows them to get out of the house, and also the Donegal Age Friendly Programme, which is implanting real change in an imaginative and cost-effective way.


Seamus Neely expressed that his role on the Age Friendly Alliance group is one he enjoys. It is very positive work and it’s something in the long run that everyone will benefit from through their journey growing old in Donegal.  Mr Neely commended on the work carried out by the Older Persons Council especially joint Chair Gráinne Hines and Mary McGowan and finished off by thanking Charles Sweeney and Mairead Cranley, Donegal County Council for their work in implementing the Age friendly Programme in Donegal.

Reports were then presented by Joint Chairs Gráinne Hines and Mary McGowan explaining some of the projects carried out by the Older Persons Council. This included Intergenerational projects, engagement with the Health services for Older People and installation of Gym Equipment in Letterkenny Town Park. Ms Hines spoke about importance for Older People to come forward to have their voice heard, and not to be afraid of joining the Older Persons Council. Special guest Fergus Cleary also spoke and told jokes of his journey through life and what it’s like to grow old.

New members were elected to the Older Persons Council executive committee. The committee represent all different types of Older People’s Groups, Advocacy Groups, Younger Older People, Frail Older People, people that represents the voice for older people in Residential Homes or older people’s services in Donegal.


Older Person's Council AGM 2019

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