ILMI eBulletin 17th of November 2023

ILMI Logo Independent Living Movement Ireland. Freedom Rights Empowerment
ILMI at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis
IMAGE: 3 photo montage featuring James, Claire, Deputy David Cullinane, Deputy Pauline Tully and First Minister Michelle O'Neill

The participation of ILMI, represented by Claire Kenny and Dr. James Casey, at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis holds significant importance in advancing the cause of collective disability advocacy. Engaging in meaningful discussions with politicians, such as Pauline Tully TD and Deputy David Cullinane TD, underscores the crucial role of an authentic voice through Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) in addressing disability issues. These interactions contribute to the broader energy and discourse at the Sinn Féin #SFAF23, emphasising that policies affecting disabled people must involve those directly impacted. The moments captured with ILMI’s representatives alongside influential figures like First Minister (Designate) Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán (Vice President) Michelle O’Neill underscore the impact of DPOs in shaping inclusive policies and exemplify ILMI’s commitment to ensuring that decisions made about disability issues are not only informed but co-created by the community itself. These encounters embody the essence of “Nothing About Us Without Us”

ILMI in Trinity
IMAGE: Photo shows Dr Edurne Garcia Iriarte and Fiona Weldon

Recently, I had the honour of speaking in the Disability and Human Rights: Global Perspectives module for fourth-year students in the Sociology and Social Policy degree. We delved into the significance of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), ILMI’s policy initiatives, and the transformative power of using lived experiences collectively as a catalyst for change. Central to ILMI’s work is the social model, challenging the notion that disabled people are excluded from daily life due to their conditions; rather, it’s the man-made structures and systems that create barriers. As social model thinkers, we recognise the brokenness of non-disabled structures, the lack of accountability, and the narrow societal norms that perpetuate exclusion.

We also explored Intersectionality, acknowledging the simultaneous inequalities that people may experience. Recognising my own privileges, I emphasise the need for inclusivity within the disability movement, understanding that it’s not a single impairment movement but a cross-impairment, intersectional movement. We must build belonging, hope, solidarity, and allyship, ensuring everyone is part of the conversation. The disability rights movement draws inspiration from other social movements, building power, influence, and alliances with civil society groups that share our values. It’s crucial to recognise that discussions about education, employment, housing, climate change, and various rights intersect with disability. Social model thinking extends beyond disability, providing support for all marginalised groups controlled by disempowering systems and structures.

Written by Fiona Weldon ILMI’s Capacity Officer

SFC Proof of Impairment Working Group
IMAGE: QR code for the survey

Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI) isn’t just an organisation; it’s a community of dedicated people who understand the vital role of a Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) in shaping an inclusive society. At the heart of our mission is the belief that when it comes to crafting policies that affect disabled people, it’s essential that those directly impacted have a leading role in shaping them.

One of our flagship projects, which we hold in high regard, is the “Strategies for a Change” (SFC) programme. It’s an active online space where emerging disabled activists come together to learn, share, and collaborate. Our collective goal is to contribute to the creation of a New Ireland where disabled people participate as equals in an inclusive society.

Within the SFC programme, we formed the “Proof of Impairment” Working Group in response to a common challenge. Many of us often find ourselves constantly needing to prove our impairments, especially concerning issues like Disabled parking badges and the persistent problem of illegal parking in disabled spots. Your insights and responses to the questions below are incredibly valuable and will help us delve deeper into this important issue.

Survey link is here   Thank you for being a part of this crucial conversation.

IMAGE: Photo shows Aisling in her Masters cape and rightly holding high her MA Certificate, alongside ATU MSc Disability Studies Coordinator Susan Carton and class colleague Carolann Kenehan.

ILMI is delighted to celebrate Post-Grad successes of our members and staff on the ATU MSc Disabilities Studies Course at St. Angela’s College, Sligo. Local activist and now recognised social model Scholar Aisling Smith is also a Sligo Disabled Person’s Organisation – DPO founder & ILMI member, has secured a Masters Degree from Ireland’s only dedicated Disability Equality Post-Grad Course.

Aisling’s Disability Equality led final MA Thesis was entitled ‘Exploration Of Disabled Person’s Responses To Charity Advertising Campaigns Created By Irish Disability Service Providers’.

ILMI’s VOICE Community Development Worker Paula Soraghan also celebrated with a Post-Grad Diploma in Science on the Disability Studies Course. ILMI’s DPO Development Officer Peter Kearns, who is also a Course founding lecturer on the MSc Disability Studies 1-year Certificate, 2-year Diploma & 3-year Masters, says “I’m so proud to have had activists like Aisling and Paula in the classes on our ILMI partnered Course with St. Angela’s College & ATU, they really made the quite complex tutorials on Lived Experiences of Disability and social model Applied Social Policy a lot more real, entertaining and thought provoking for their non-disabled class mates”. Peter and Course Coordinator Susan would be delighted to chat with any ILMI members and activists from around the Island, or even abroad, interested in either the Cert or Dip. or even the Masters. There’s no need to travel to Sligo as the Course is mostly taught on-line and in the evenings – email Peter at

The Strategies for Change (SFC) Update
IMAGE: photo shows the group and the SFC and ILMI logos

In our 2nd SFC session this week with “PossibilitiesPlus” we explored whole body listening and how it is important when we are in conversations with other people.

We then went on to look at critical thinking. Critical thinking is about thinking hard and trying to make sense about all kinds of information. Critical thinking is about carefully understanding what we have read, seen, or heard. Sometimes we need to do some research, and this can mean reading, listening, and talking to other people to learn more. It is about being well informed, and sometimes we need to remember what we know already.

We chatted about how we make all kinds of decisions all the time and that we are always taking information in. But trying to make sense of it and then deciding whether is it real or not can be hard sometimes.

We went on to learn about misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is false information, and it is spread by word of mouth, TV, and on social media platforms, regardless of whether it is right or wrong – misinformation it is not intentional.

Disinformation on the other hand is about deliberately misleading or spreading personalised ideas and information about an issue or a topic – this involves the controlling of stories or facts – this is fake, and it is done on propose.

We ended our session by looking at some YouTube video’s and discussing what we seen, heard and learned. See links to the video’s below. We invite readers to watch then and think about what you have seen, heard and learned.

Video 1 

Video 2 

Two things that came out of watching these videos were:

“Who says easier is better”? And “not special needs just human needs”

For more information on our SFC Programme please Email:

National Disability Strategy online consultations

The NDA are hosting nine online focus groups over November 2023 and December 2023 as part of DCEDIY’s consultation on the development of a new National Disability Strategy.

Registration for all nine online focus groups, based on different thematic areas, is open, so if you are interested in attending, please register at the relevant link or links below.

These online focus groups are part of a wider consultation process and there will be more information here in the coming weeks. Please check here to see how else you can have your say on this Strategy.

Dates and times of online focus groups
Tues 21st Nov 10.30am to 12pm Carers 

Wed 22nd 2.30pm to 4pm Older people

Tues 28th Nov 10.30am to 12pm Transport 

Wed 29th Nov 5pm-6.30pm Cost of Disability 

Thurs 30th Nov 2pm-3.30pm Employment & Training 

Sat 2nd Dec 11-12.30pm Housing & Independent Living

Tues Dec 5th 7pm-8.30pm Disability Health & Social Care Services and Supports 

Wed Dec 6th 2pm-3.30pm Education  

Mon Dec 11th 10.30am to 12pm Disabled Women 

Invitation to the launch of “Not in the Driving Seat” November 22nd 11am
IMAGE : photo close up of a passenger set in a car and text that reads “Invitation to the launch of “Not in the Driving Seat” November 22nd 11am” and the ILMI logo

ILMI is proud to announce that on November 22nd we will launch our research paper “Not” in the Driving Seat: Reliance on family for supports and the impact it has on disabled people”.

The launch will take place on Zoom. ILMI commissioned the research to explore the impact that forced reliance on support from family members has / has had on the quality of life, and self-determination of disabled people.
Nationally and internationally there exists an abundance of research which explores the impact on family members who provide supports for disabled family members. However, there is a significant absence of research documenting the impact that reliance on family members has on disabled people.
Carried out by Marie Lynch, a mix of focus groups and individual discussions with disabled people informs this ground breaking research.
To sign up for the launch, email 

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