Historically people with an intellectual disability have been excluded from society and many continue to live separately in institutions, group homes and segregated campuses. This article provides a unique analysis of what it is like to live separately from society in Irish centres for people with a disability. An analysis was undertaken of data from 627 inspection reports published in 2016 by the Inspectorate of residential care in Ireland. A Human Rights Framework was developed, based on the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), to interpret the data by linking various interrelated articles of the CRPD into nine Human Rights Themes. The findings demonstrated that people with an intellectual disability were not regarded as citizens capable of full inclusion in society but rather experienced daily restrictions on their lives. The findings also emphasised the need to ensure human rights are at the core of service delivery. Points of interestIn this research, we put the spotlight on the human rights of people living in residential care in Ireland.Our research looked at all inspection reports for residential care centres published in 2016. We mapped the reports against the human rights named in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.We found out that people with an intellectual disability living in residential care have little or no control over their own lives.We would like to share how we did our research with governments, funders and services. More research like this can help make sure the guiding principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are at the heart of all service delivery.