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ILMI eBulletin 13th December 2018

Welcome to the 29th ILMI eBulletin.
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Updates from ILMI

A word from our Chair Shelly Gaynor.

Well folks, 2018 has been extremely busy for us here in ILMI with our re-branding and new strategic plan. As an organisation we are really in very healthy place now, and we have come a long way in just one year. 
As chair I would like to acknowledge the sad passing of Arron Abbey and Mairead Manton who really embodied Independent Living, so it’s very important that we carry on our to make sure that philosophy reach the next generation.
I would like to sincerely thank Damien Walshe and team for their hard work and passion through the year.
Finally I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and healthy new year

Message from ILMI CEO Damien Walshe

As this is the last ILMI eBulletin for 2018, I wanted to use the opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved as a collective, to recognise how much work that has been carried out and to ensure that the energy, enthusiasm and momentum we as a Movement have created is built upon in 2019.
It really has been an eventful year for us. 2018 has seen us change our name in July from CIL to Independent Living Movement (ILMI) to reflect our all-Island approach. We re-branded at our extremely successful conference “Building a Movement for Change: Working together to fight for disabled people's human rights in the 21st Century” on the 22nd September. It was an historic day as over 70 people were there to witness ILMI launch its vision of an Ireland where disabled people have freedom, choice and control over all aspects of their lives and can fully participate in an inclusive society as equals and officially launch our new Strategic Plan  as well as our new Logo and website .

Those present at the launch were treated to a fascinating panel discussion with Rosaleen McDonagh, Leigh Gath and James Casey, with Dermot Hayes as MC. The discussion focussed on the real benefits of collective action to bring about change, and I think we all left the room energised by the possibilities. A special word of thanks must go to Minister Finian McGrath TD who took time out to be part of our day and officially launch our new organisation. ILMI member Desmond Kenny captured the energy best when he said: “I am confident that Saturday’s launch of ILMI in the Spencer Hotel, Dublin, will come to be marked down as one of those seminal moments in the progressive evolution of a rights-based movement of persons with disabilities”.

As a collective, we have been engaged in regional workshops, discussions and training sessions over the course of 2018, building a real grassroots-led movement that reflects the lived experience of disabled people. Our strategic plan 2019 – 2022 outlined four key priorities:

  • Leadership & Representation
  • Promotion of equality & accessing human rights
  • Political Campaigning & Strategic Policy Development
  • Governance, Accountability & Transparency

In March we began a process of discussion across the country with leaders on building a Strategic Collective campaign on the Personal Assistance Service. From this consultation, we developed our #PASNOW campaign , and followed this up with political campaigning workshops with over 100 leaders from across the country. Through our links with the Public Interest Litigation Association (PILA) and NUIG Center for Disability Law and Policy we will build on this campaign to work on ensuring a right to a Personal Assistance Service and building on our political campaigning work. This will only work if we as a collective ensure that our elected representatives hear disabled peoples’ voices in a collective, strategic campaign. We need to build on this in 2019.

Part of our strategic objective on leadership and representation is about building a shared understanding about the philosophy of Independent Living. Over the course of November ILMI held Leader training in Dublin, Offaly, Leitrim, Limerick, Cork, Sligo and Ennis to almost 100 leaders based on an ILMI Leader Training manual. Over the course of 2019 ILMI will explore how we can deliver more of this training to meet demand in a sustainable manner.

We also launched our #IndependentVoices video campaign  which featured 8 leaders talking about what Independent Living means to them, which was filmed by ILMI members Peter Kearns and John Owens. These clips were shared widely on social media and are an invaluable resource for connecting with disabled people globally on what independent living means. This sort of synergy between activism and creative media is something we can look to develop further in 2019 and beyond.

And we brought 2018 to a very successful close with the launch of the ILMI Guide to the Law in relation to disability which is discussed below. This document is such an important resource for us as a collective as part of our strategic objective Promotion of equality & accessing human rights. ILMI’s work and approach is now firmly grounded in a human rights and equality approach and this guide provides us with the information we need to further build that analysis. I would like to acknowledge the magnificent work that our legal intern, Anna O’Duffy did in making this document a reality.

I want to use this opportunity to recognise to thank everyone who has participated and contributed to the work of the organisation at every level. I want to acknowledge the work that the board  has put in over the course of 2018 and support they give me and the staff. I would like to thank Selina Bonnie, Audrey Brodigan, Sarah Fitzgerald (Secretary), Shelly Gaynor (Chair), Dermot Hayes, Sinead Murtagh, Michael Nestor (Vice Chair), Dr John Roche, Gordon Ryan (Treasurer) for their commitment to the organisation and the work they have put in to give us the solid governance the organisation needs to grow in the future.

I want to acknowledge the work of the staff team: Susan O’Brien, Nina Byrne and James Cawley for their dedication, expertise and passion they bring to their roles and their work as a team. I would also like to thank Naoise Cunningham who left us in April after almost ten years with the organisation. I want to thank those who gave their time to the organisation as volunteers over the year to ILMI: Amanda Farrell, Laura May Galvin and Anna O’Duffy.

And finally, but most importantly, I want to acknowledge the huge contribution made by members across the country, who have given their knowledge and expertise to be part of a Movement for change.
There is now an energy, momentum and importantly an expectation that ILMI can be a driver for real change in society. That has come about by so many people working together as a collective. In a short space of time we have done so much. I really feel this is just the beginning. Thank you all for being part of making ILMI what it is.

On behalf of all the board and staff of ILMI, I wish you a merry Christmas and look forward to being part of all that we will create and achieve in the new year.



Independent Living Movement Ireland launches new guide to the law in Relation to Disability 


Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI) launched a new guide to Law in Relation to Disability on Monday 10th December to mark the 70th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights in order that disabled people in Ireland are aware of the legal approaches available in Ireland to protect their rights and prevent discrimination. The launch was kindly hosted by our colleagues in the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC).


Speaking at the launch of the report, ILMI chair Shelly Gaynor said “Our new strategic plan sets an ambitious set of objectives to bring about change for disabled people across Ireland and to build an Ireland where disabled people are empowered to live Independent Lives with control, choice and options. One of our core strategic aims is the promotion of equality and accessing human rights. Over the course of this plan Independent Living Movement Ireland’s work will be grounded in equality and a rights-based approach, working towards an inclusive Irish Society.”


“ILMI will use the information in this booklet to work with disabled people over the course of 2019 to promote awareness of the human rights and equality infrastructure in Ireland. We will work to empower disabled people to challenge inequalities that they face through legal means if required. This work will require ILMI to build on our strong links with the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) and National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) Centre for Disability Law and Policy in order to create a legal support structure for disabled people who face discrimination” added Ms Gaynor. 


Author of the report, Anna O Duffy said “The work undertaken by disability rights activists and organisations in Ireland has already advanced the rights of disabled people. However, while the law provides a significant opportunity to challenge discrimination and barriers faced by disabled people in Irish society, the number of cases appearing in Irish courts on issues involving disability rights remains small. This guide informs disabled people about their rights, outlines the laws in Ireland relating to disability and most importantly, explains the routes available to people to protect their rights themselves.” 


Speaking at the launch, Eilis Barry Director of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) said “We were delighted to be involved in launching this important resource. I would like to welcome ILMI’s new guide to law in relation to disability, the work undertaken by Anna O’Duffy and look forward to building our links with ILMI over the course of 2019 and beyond”


“Our new strategic plan is based on three core objectives: Leadership and Representation; Equality and Human rights; and Strategic Political Campaigning. All the objectives are interlinked and central to them being effective is building a grassroots collective approach, where disabled people across the country become active participants in the Movement, are empowered to be part of policy development and political campaigns, and that the Movement is led by disabled people” said ILMI CEO Damien Walshe. “


“Core to our work on Equality and Human rights is ensuring that disabled people have access to information in relation to their rights and how to challenge inequality. I would like to thank Anna for her work in making this a reality and look forward to working with ILMI members over the course of our Strategic Plan using the Guide to Law in relation to Disability to empower people to bring about change in Ireland” added Mr Walshe.  



The ILMI Guide to Law in Relation to Disability can be downloaded here on the ILMI Website.  


We streamed the launch live  and you can watch it back here on Facebook where you can hear from Shelly Gaynor (ILMI Chair), Anna O Duffy (author of the ILMI Guide to Law in relation to Disability), Robbie Sinnott (ILMI Member and disability rights activist) and Eilis Barry (Chief Executive of FLAC). 


photo James Cawley, Matt McCann (ILMI Member) and Donal McClean

Independent Living Leader Training

Our Independent Living Leader Training pilot programme wrapped up this week in Cork. To date sessions have run across the country and were received with much enthusiasm for renewing the IL movement. We will be evaluating the programme, with the guidance of those who participated in the training, and subject to resources will be offering further sessions in 2019.

A sincere thank you to all the organisations that supported the programme during the consultations, both prior to the Leader Manual re-development and the subsequent training rollout including: Enable Ireland, Cork CIL, Sligo CIL, Offaly CIL, Donegal CIL, Leitrim Association of People with Disabilities, Galway CIL, Cheshire Homes and RehabCare. Thank you also to our dedicated trainers Eileen Daly and James Cawley we look forward to working with you all again in 2019.

photo IL training Cork CIL group


International Day of People with Disabilities 2018

On Monday December 3rd ILMI were delighted to support the Clare Leader Forum in welcoming over 150 people to Glor Theatre in Ennis to celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities 2018. It was a day of reflections, celebration and most of all solidarity as people united from across all communities. Music and entertainment was provided by the talented students of Rice College and the CLF were delighted to welcome Mayor of Ennis Clare Colleran Molloy to open the festivities.

A central point to the day was the screening of a documentary, which was filmed over 25 years ago and captured the struggle of bringing Independent Living to the people of Clare. Ann Marie Flanagan, who was part of the documentary and continues to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities to this day, explained to people that "the two guiding principles behind the Independent Living Movement are 'rights not charity' and 'nothing about us without us'. Given that it was International Day of People with Disabilities it was felt that the time was right to remember those who have passed, while fighting for our rights, but also to honour those who continue to dedicate themselves to ensuring our inclusion at all levels of society".

On what proved to be an emotional day for many CLF member Dermot Hayes summarised that "we need to acknowledge that in reality progress has been very slow, in protecting our rights, over the past 25 years. We have worked long and hard for the small wins that have been made but the time has come to pass the baton to the younger generation of activists coming through. We all have a responsibility now to take ownership and ensure we work together to offer protection and support to those who continue to be institutionalised by our State - in appropriate settings such as nursing homes but also in our own homes through poverty and lack of state supports such as PAS and transport. The time is now for us to recognise that we are centre-stage in ensuring our voice is included in our future. We need to work together once again to realise the future that we actually want for ourselves and each other".

photo of group credit Eoin Healy

photo of panel credit Eoin Healy Dermot Hayes, Tomas Connole and Anne Marie Flanagan

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

On the 3
of December ILMI’s Chair Michelle Gaynor was in Ballyfermot the purpose was to meet the grass root warriors on the frontline changing attitudes and “smashing barriers” within their community. This is what Independent Living is all about. Telling your story, getting your voice heard and coming together as a collective and changing Ireland for everyone. Human Rights is the lens we adhere to and when principled people come together everything is possible. That is the message of celebration on International day of people with disabilities.


ILMI was extremely proud to be invited by the Ballyfermot Chapelizod Access Group to their event 'Celebrating Disability in Our Community' to listen to 4 Commmunity Models (3 disabled people and 1 parent) tell their stories of their experiences in Ballyfermot and to suggest changes that should be made to ensure all disabled people, families and carers can participate fully in their own communities. Four speakers told their story and the themes we are sure echoed across Ireland on #IDPD , so many groups came together and shared their strength with each other up and down the nation.


Disabled people are the experts in their own lives and if we all work together on the common identified goal of true independence for everyone. This is not aspirational thinking this can be the reality and norm if we have the right supports. Housing, Transport, Employment, choice and control over one’s life are all things that need to be improved yesterday in our society. It is only with people power and passion leading the way that shines a light for others to follow. The day in Ballyfermot concreted the ILMI philosophy and reaffirmed our vision once again for an equal society that we all want to be part of.  A huge thanks to the Ballyfermot Chapelizod Access Group, there sub group Smashing Barriers:Drama Collective and a huge special thank you to Maureen McGovern who pulled it all together it was wonderful to be made so welcome and no big surprise to us to feel so at home with our peers.

photo Ballyfermot Access Group

Sinn Fein cross party briefing
On Tuesday 4th December our chairperson Shelly Gaynor and Policy officer James Cawley addressed a Cross party briefing organised by Sinn Fein in the AV room in Leinster house. The event was very welcome by us at ILMI and it gave us the opportunity to spread the philosophy of Independent living to a wide audience of Oireachtas members. Both Shelly and James gave personal stories on how a Personal Assistant enables them to live a life of choice, dignity and respect.
The cross-party briefing was an opportunity for elected representatives to hear about the ILMI #PASNOW campaign and for us as ILMI to continue to build strong links with all political parties around the need to define, invest in and legislate for a Personal Assistance Service that allows disabled people to live independent lives.
Strategic political campaigning and policy development is one of our strategic priorities at ILMI so we look forward to strengthening our links within the political arena going forward and making sure that many more disabled people can enjoy independent living and a life of their choosing.
A big thank you to Sinn Féin disability spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD for organising and hosting the briefing.

photo Shelly Gaynor Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD and James Cawley



Opinion: Should disabled characters be played by disabled actors?


‘I’m really not a fan of hiring someone because they have or have not got a disability and I, for one, would not like to be hired for a job on that basis,’ writes filmmaker Paddy Slattery. Full article here


Photo Paddy Slattery ILMI member 



ILMI Housing Working Group have their first meeting

On Wednesday 5th of December we had our first national housing consultation group in Carmichael house. The group consisted of people with real lived experience and it allowed a space to generate discussion around the housing needs of disabled people in general. The session was co - facilitated by ILMI Policy officer James Cawley and our CEO Damien Walshe.

The aim of this group is to develop a collective discussion around housing for disabled people and our housing strategy. ILMI members identified housing as one of our core strategic policy campaigns for the next three years and at ILMI we are keen to build a collective approach on housing going forward into 2019!
At the beginning everyone was welcomed and James delivered a brief presentation detailing the policy context on housing disabled people. He spoke about the types of supports available for local authority housing and gave a short analysis of some of the strategic plans secured from local authorities under the aims of the National housing strategy for people with a disability.

During the consultation group a substantial amount of time was given to asking the participants a series of questions. The questions allowed the participants to draw on their experiences with housing and to ask what we as an organisation can do going forward in building a collective approach to housing, one of our four pillars of Independent living.

In the coming editions of the ebulletin we will be providing an update on our housing working group and when we finalise our analysis of the housing plans and information gathered we will be in touch with people with a date for our next housing group.


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Center for Independent Living · Carmichael Centre · North Brunswick Street · Dublin, D D7 · Ireland

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