Irish Research Council

Three DCU projects funded as part of the Irish Research Council’s COALESCE programme

Projects cover the lived experiences of autistic pupils in Ireland, person-centred homecare services for community dwelling LGBTI people and gendered dimensions of hunger in peacebuilding

The awards are being made as part of the fourth cycle of COALESCE (Collaborative Alliances for Societal Challenges), which funds excellent research addressing national and European-global challenges across a number of strands.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Dr Louise Callinan, Director of the Irish Research Council, said:

“The aims of the COALESCE programme strongly align with the commitments in Impact 2030, Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy, to drive interdisciplinary research underpinned by research excellence to maximise the impact on the grand challenges we face. We are delighted that through our continued partnerships with different Government departments and agencies we are able to support collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects that respond to current priorities and policy needs.”

About the projects

Autism-Friendly Schools: Including the Voices of Autistic Pupils in Educational Provision in Ireland

Dr Sinéad McNally (Lead Principal Investigator) at Dublin City University’s Institute of Education and Dr Mary Rose Sweeney (STEM co-Principal Investigator) at DCU’s School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health have been awarded funding from the Irish Research Council to undertake the first large scale systematic investigation of the lived experiences of autistic pupils in Ireland.

Autism-Friendly Schools: Including the Voices of Autistic Pupils in Educational Provision in Ireland is a timely interdisciplinary research study which aims to capture the perspectives and experiences of autistic pupils of all levels of need in education in Ireland in order to identify principles and actions that would enhance the inclusion of autistic pupils in educational settings in Ireland. 

Funding for the study comes from the Irish Research Council’s COALESCE for interdisciplinary research stream which addresses national or global societal challenges.

This research is taking place in partnership with AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity.

Speaking about the award, study lead Dr Sinéad McNally said

“There is evidence that autistic children regularly experience exclusion and challenges in education that can result in lifelong difficulties.

The funding from the Irish Research Council for this study will enable us to conduct child-centred research that facilitates autistic children's rights to be heard and listened to. Using methodologies from psychology, education and health our goal is to ensure the voices of autistic pupils, including children at all levels of need, are included. 

Our study will work in consultation with autistic pupils, family members and experienced educators, to capture the voices of autistic pupils in policy and practice to address ongoing challenges around the full inclusion of autistic pupils in education.” 

Dr Mary Rose Sweeney, study co-lead said,

“Autistic pupils face barriers to their academic and social inclusion in educational settings. This study provides a forum for systematic data gathering from autistic pupils, their families and educators to identify and inform what needs to happen to improve their academic and social experiences and outcomes. Importantly our study will also examine attitudes to, and understanding of ASD, among the wider educational community of parents and teachers.

Autistic children and young people may require a range of individualised supports to take a full part in education. Current policies are intended to provide efficient and equitable access to a common set of services across Ireland - the voices of young people with autism need to be included to realise full access to those services."

Homecare, Inclusive & Diverse (HID) - Person-Centred Homecare Services for Community Dwelling Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Intersex (LGBTI) People

Dr Mel Duffy (PI); Professor Anthony Staines (co-PI); Dr Eileen Courtney (AI)

In Ireland little is known about the experiences of community dwelling older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,

Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people of receiving homecare. This study seeks to understand these experiences from the perspective of older LGBTI themselves, and by exploring the attitudes and knowledge of professional caregivers who provide care to LGBTI people in their homes. The literature that does exist in the area suggests that community dwelling older LGBTI people are vulnerable when receiving homecare. This may cause them to either try to conceal their LGBTI identity or neglect their healthcare needs.

General studies on the needs of older LGBTI people suggest that people want to be accepted for who they are including their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Just as older people in general, older LGBTI people want to feel respected in their interactions with healthcare providers.

Based on both the experiences of community dwelling older LGBTI people, and the knowledge and attitudes of professional home care providers, an educational resource for homecare services will be developed. This resource will be used to enable homecare providers to develop new skills in the area of diversity and inclusion which will facilitate the provision of respectful, appropriate person-centred services. It will examine the lived experience of community dwelling older LGBTI people and their support circle, and the attitudes of professional carers providing home care to older LGBTI individuals.

Gendered Dimensions of Hunger in Peacebuilding 

Dr Caitriona Dowd (PI)

According to the most recent Global Report on Food Crises, acute food insecurity is increasing around the world. Violent conflict and insecurity is the single greatest driver of food crises, and long after conflict subsides, the legacy of both violence, and extreme hunger, cast long shadows in societies seeking to build lasting peace. While devastating, conflict and hunger do not affect all members of societies, communities or even households equally: women and girls, and men and boys, experience conflict and extreme food insecurity very differently. When efforts turn to building peace, women and girls are often excluded or relegated to more minor roles in peace processes, despite their right to meaningful participation, and the unique insights diverse stakeholders can bring.

They may also experience post conflict food security very differently, typically playing a greater role in household food collection and preparation, with more limited rights in terms of land and livestock. While extensive research has documented the ways gender matters in conflict, peace, hunger and food crises, very limited research to date has specifically explored when, where and how women and girls’ food rights and experiences of hunger have been integrated in peacebuilding from the local to the international level. 

The Gendered Dimensions of Hunger in Peacebuilding project seeks to fill this gap, by asking: how, when and why are gendered aspects of hunger and food rights integrated in peacebuilding in diverse peacebuilding contexts? Through a mixed-methods approach that combines i) study of key policy frameworks and international resolutions, with ii) content analysis of key peace agreements, and iii) stakeholder consultation in three peacebuilding contexts (South Sudan, Liberia and South Africa) the project aims to explain the inclusion of women and girls’ food rights and experiences of hunger in peacebuilding, and develop recommendations for more effective peacebuilding policy, practice and research.

Read more about the COALESCE programme here.