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Meet some of Ireland’s “rare community”…

Welcome from Kevin Whelan, Chair of Rare Diseases Ireland

Welcome to Rare Diseases Ireland. We are a patient advocacy national alliance for voluntary groups representing people affected by or at risk of developing a rare disease. RDI is committed to the identification, treatment, and cure of rare disease through programs of education, advocacy and patient engagement.

We welcome input from all stakeholders of the rare disease community in Ireland. We at Rare Diseases Ireland feel strongly that it will only be through the collaboration of all stakeholders that we will advance the cause of and improve the lives of those affected by rare diseases and their families.

We hope that you will find this site to be of some help and look forward to hearing from you.

About Rare Diseases Ireland

Rare Diseases Ireland (formerly GRDO – the Genetic and Rare Disorders Organisation) is a non-governmental organisation with the mission to act as a national alliance for voluntary groups representing the views and concerns of people affected by or at risk of developing genetic or other rare diseases.

This will be achieved by RDI focusing its efforts as follows:

1. Voice and promote views of the member organisations on issues of common concern.

2. Be a strong and united voice that will increase public awareness of genetic and other rare diseases.

3. Promote further development of genetic services in Ireland.

4. Advocate for the availability of adequate care services in Ireland for people living with genetic and rare diseases.

5. Facilitate the exchange of information between member organisations that represent people living with genetic and rare diseases.

6. Establish a liaison with geneticists and other relevant specialists nationally and internationally to help Rare Diseases Ireland achieve its aims and objectives.

7. Collaborate with national and international stakeholders on policy and regulation issues in the area of genetic and rare diseases.

History – RDI

Rare Diseases Ireland: Building on a 30 year past to create a better future

Rare Diseases Ireland (RDI) is the National Alliance for Rare Diseases in Ireland and its objective is to represent the voice of those who have or are at risk of developing a rare disease. The organisation was established by patients and volunteers in 1988 as the Inherited Disorders Organisation (IDO) in order to advocate in the first instance for the establishment of a national center for medical genetics, which opened at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin in 1994. The voluntary group also acted as a watchdog against the practice of genetic discrimination and was an active voice in the development of policy to meet the needs of the rare disease community on issues concerning, access to a diagnosis and the appropriate medical and social care.

Changing its name to GRDO – the Genetic & Rare Disorders Organisation it successfully advocated on issues affecting the rare disease patient community, providing advocacy for fair and enlightened public policies; education for patients, their families, medical professionals and the public; and leadership and representation for its member patient organizations.

We must remember that each individual rare disease patient community, widely dispersed and relatively small in number, had to strive to come together to advocate for their needs. This was facilitated primarily through European disease specific groups. In 1997 the individual European rare disease organisations came together with the national rare disease umbrella groups to establish EURORDIS – Rare Diseases Europe. RDI was one of the first members of EURORIDS.

Since joining EURORDIS in 1997, RDI  has played an active role in advocating for key European policy achievements that have improved the lives of those affected by rare diseases in Ireland and across Europe. These have included:

  • Adoption of the EU Regulation on Orphan Medicinal Products in 1999
  • Adoption of the EU Commission Communication on Rare Diseases in 2008
  • Adoption of the EU Council Recommendation on European Action  for Rare Diseases in 2009
  • Adoption of the EU Directive on Patients’ Right to Cross-Border Healthcare in 2011
  • The promotion and maintenance of rare diseases as an EU Public Health Policy priority and  an EU Research Framework Programme priority
  • Promotion of National Plans and Strategies on Rare Diseases in EU Member States and beyond, resulting in the publication of Ireland’s National Plan for Rare Diseases: 2014-2018
  • The development of the annual International Rare Disease Day

Change of name not purpose…

On February 28th 2018, Rare Disease Day, GRDO officially relaunched as Rare Disease Ireland – RDI. This name change was approved at an AGM on October 24th 2017 as a fitting name for the organisation representing the needs of patients living with rare diseases in Ireland.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors provides strategic direction and governance to our organisation, helping to support and guide all aspects of our work. Our Board consists of patient and industry leaders and representatives, and is supported by scientific and medical expertise via the Scientific & Medical Advisory Board. We aim to have a broad range of experiences on the Board, addressing all of the challenges encountered by the rare disease community – research and development of new devices & therapies, access to and reimbursement of new devices & therapies, development of diagnostic and therapeutic care pathways and associated services, etc.

Scientific & Medical Advisory Board

The Scientific & Medical Advisory Board (SMAB) is composed of leading scientists, clinicians and professionals who specialise in rare diseases in Ireland. The SMAB provides scientific and clinical expertise to guide us in identifying, planning and implementing our advocacy initiatives.

RDI Audited Accounts

Contact Rare Diseases Ireland 

The best way to contact Rare Diseases Ireland is by email at

Our mailing address is Rare Diseases Ireland, Carmichael House, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7, D07 RHA8, Ireland

You can also join our mailing list

Privacy Policy

Rare Diseases Ireland is not responsible for the content of any other website or online portal accessible from this website, nor does it endorse or in any respect warrant any third party products or services by virtue of any information, material or content referred to or included on, or linked from or to the website.