An umbrella group representing support agencies for people with intellectual disabilities and autism has warned of an unprecedented crisis in the sector unless government investment is increased.

The National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers says thousands of people are spending years on waiting lists for services they may never see.

It is asking the Government to commit an additional €211 million per year to the sector over the next five years.

Conor O'Neill - a six-year old boy who lives with his family at Donoughmore in north Cork - has a diagnosis of autism, as well as a mild to moderate intellectual disability.

Conor's parents Trish and Eoin have struggled to find a place in a special school for him. He has spent over three years on a waiting list.

Conor is one of 2,500 children and adults receiving support from Cope Foundation in Cork.

But the Foundation and agencies like it throughout the country say their services are at breaking point.

The National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers has asked the Government to commit to an additional €211 million per year for the next five years.

Cope itself says it needs an extra €34m per year in order to avert a crisis for the people it serves.

€2 billion was allocated in last week's budget for disability services.

The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive say the distribution of those funds among different service providers is being worked out, as part of the preparation of the HSE's service plan for next year.

Conor O'Neill and his mother Trish