Disability campaigners have called on the Government to urgently enact legislation to protect children and adults with intellectual disabilities from abuse.

The legislation was recommended in the report of a HSE Expert Group last May.

The National Expert Group on Home Sharing expressed serious concerns that children in home sharing care settings - a voluntary care arrangement - do not enjoy the same legal protection as children in foster care, which leaves them open to the risk of abuse.

The report said: "There is no legal framework for the regulation of home sharing in Ireland which is urgently required to underpin the safe governance and management of this service.

"There is also an inequity in the protection afforded to children with intellectual disability who are in home sharing on a full-time basis but are not under the protection of a care order."

The report also expressed concerns that there are gaps in monitoring children and vulnerable adults in home sharing arrangements and that the monitoring is inadequately resourced.

"What has emerged over the life time of this project is that there is a very limited resource allocated to the monitoring and management of home sharing nationally and as such there remains a significant risk to the people with intellectual disability who are currently in receipt of this service," the report said.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, solicitor Gareth Noble who specialises in disability and child law said: "We have a terrible legacy in this country of looking after our children and unfortunately I don't think we're there yet in ensuring that those failures of the past are not going to be there in the future."

Mr Noble called for the Government to "grab the issue by the scruff of the neck" and urgently implement the safeguarding legislation.

The National Expert Group, which comprises senior HSE personnel, disability service provider and Tusla representatives said it had "grave concerns" about the resourcing of the home sharing service.

The group's report includes draft legislation in its appendix.

Paddy Connolly, CEO of the disability advocacy group Inclusion Ireland, said that home sharing offered a positive model of support for people with disabilities, but "risked being ground down due to a lack of investment".

In a statement to RTÉ's This Week, the HSE said it was making increased resources to support the monitoring of home sharing in the 2016 service plan out of €1m being given to alternative care.