ILMI eBulletin 27th of October 2023

ILMI Logo Independent Living Movement Ireland. Freedom Rights Empowerment
ILMI at the NDA Conference
IMAGE: James Casey has a copy of our position paper on political participation and is on stage at the NDA conference

At the National Disability Authority (NDA) Annual Conference 2023, which focused on the theme of “Public and political participation of disabled people,” ILMI’s Peer mentor Shelly Gaynor attended in person along with Dr James Casey, our Policy Officer, who played a pivotal role. James’s insights during the event underscored the significance of “Authentic Representation.” He emphasised that authentic representation not only fosters a sense of inclusion in the decision-making process but also generates invaluable data. With a passionate call to action, he encouraged all to embrace the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), asserting, “It’s there, so use it!”

During Session 4, which centred on the “Political participation of disabled people in Ireland,”  James shared his expertise alongside Senator Dr Tom Clonan who chaired the discussion, John Dolan (CEO of Disability Federation Ireland), Brian Sheehan (CEO of Women for Election), and Barrister Lorraine Lally.

Furthermore, James’s role as the chair in the final session, “Wrap-up: Reflections from elected representatives,” was pivotal. With elected representatives Ivana Bacik (TD, Labour Party), Pauline Tully (TD, Sinn Féin), and Senator Martin Conway (Fine Gael), James facilitated a thoughtful and reflective conclusion to the conference.

Notably, the ILMI family was well-represented at the event, with the active participation of members like Annette Costello and Dr. Vivian Rath. Suzy Byrne’s informative piece on the importance of disabled people applying for state boards resonated with ILMI’s mission. ILMI’s “Governance for Change” program, designed to equip disabled individuals with the necessary skills and motivation to serve on boards, exemplifies our commitment to fostering inclusivity and promoting authentic representation.

ILMI’s “Enabling Participation: Supporting the involvement of disabled people in Political Parties”
PDF and word version

ILMI’s Claire Kenny joins the conversation on “Getting and Staying Active with a Disability
IMAGE: Zoom screenshot of participants

Claire had the honour of being part of a panel discussion at the Institute of Public Health’s webinar, shedding light on the significance of physical activity for disabled people. Here’s a glimpse of what was covered:
Inclusivity Matters Claire stressed the importance of actively involving disabled persons’ organisations (DPOs) in policy design, implementation, and program creation to ensure true inclusivity, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities UNCRPD.

Community Accessibility She highlighted the need for accessible and inclusive town planning, ensuring our cities and local amenities are designed with everyone in mind. Plus, the crucial role of accessible public transport.

Tackling Barriers Claire addressed a significant barrier “cost.” Quoting the Indecon report (cost of disability), she discussed how the financial burden on disabled people could hinder our physical activity participation. From transport costs to equipment expenses, these factors need consideration.
Let’s keep the dialogue going and work together to break down these barriers!

Empowering Disabled Women, ILMI’s Breakthrough on Menopause Taboo
IMAGE: Fiona up on stage in a fabulous red dress with other panel members

In March, ILMI’s Capacity Officer, Fiona Weldon, attended the National Menopause Summit in Dublin with no inkling that she would soon be taking centre stage at the next event in Cork last Friday. What began as a personal quest quickly transformed into a spear headed action. Fuelled by her experience at the Dublin Summit, Fiona embarked on extensive research into the intersection of menopause and disability. Her findings were striking, there was a notable lack of information and discourse on the unique challenges that disabled women face during this life transition. With determination, Fiona resolved to break the taboo and initiate a conversation that would include all women.

The journey to bring this crucial dialogue to the forefront was far from easy. It was a labour of dedication, marked by hard work, determination, and, yes, even a few tears. Fiona’s efforts caught the attention of Irish Independent’s Eilish O’Regan, who conducted an insightful interview on the subject, pushing the agenda even further.

Central to Fiona’s vision was not just representing the lived experiences of disabled menopausal women but also amplifying their voices. She aimed to provide a platform for these women to share their stories, insights, and aspirations. To this end, an online meeting was convened within the safe and supportive space of ILMI.

During this gathering, a group of women with diverse backgrounds and experiences came together, sharing their personal ‘war stories,’ ideas, solutions, and dreams. The collective wisdom and shared experiences of this dynamic group were, in turn, brought to the stage at the subsequent summit.

One key message stood out, seemingly simple but undeniably powerful: “You must listen to us.” This message serves as a remedy for the fear, misunderstanding, and mistreatment that often accompany menopause, especially for disabled women.

Through Fiona’s determination and the unity of these women, the conversation around menopause for disabled people has been irrevocably altered. It’s a testament to the transformative power of listening, understanding, and giving voice to those who have been overlooked for too long. The stage is set, and the world is now listening.

ILMI in Brussels
IMAGE: the group in the parliament building sitting in a round table formation

On the  23rd and 24th of October, Paula Soraghan, representing ILMI and the National Women’s Council of Ireland ‘s Youth Advisory Panel, embarked on an exciting journey to Brussels. This special invitation came from MEP Frances Fitzgerald, leading to a whirlwind two days filled with enlightening experiences. During her visit, Paula engaged with Irish MEPs to share vital information about VOICE and ILMI. She also had the privilege of touring the European Parliament and European Commission, culminating in a productive meeting with the European Women’s Lobby

The Delegation’s focus was on advocating for social justice issues women face, emphasising concerns such as violence against women, challenges experienced by those living in rural Ireland, and the intersectionality of identities, including those of LGBT+ and ethnic minorities. Paula’s selection to be part of this remarkable group of women on this Brussels adventure was a great honour, and she extends her gratitude to the NWC for this valuable opportunity.

ILMI at the Green Party Convention
IMAGE : photo shows Nicola Meacle and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O'Gorman TD and he is being presented with a copy of our book "Conversations about Activism and Change"

On Saturday, October 21st, ILMI’s Nicola Meacle and Sarah Harrington set up a stand at the Green Party convention in Cork. They seized the opportunity to emphasise the vital importance of consulting with Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) to ensure that the voices of people with lived experiences are not only heard but actively integrated into policymaking. This approach guarantees that all policies are inclusive and that public funding in every department benefits everyone, leaving no one behind.

Not only did Nicola and Sarah engage in valuable discussions with Green Party members who hold ministerial posts, but they also had productive conversations with party members who took the time to explore ILMI’s mission. And, of course, ILMI’s dynamic VOICE project took centre stage when chatting with Green Party members from any of the seven counties covered by VOICE. The Green Party members gathered in Cork City to discuss a wide range of motions during their annual convention. Party Leader, Minister Eamon Ryan , talked about pressing topics such as the climate crisis, extending a warm welcome to Ukrainians in Ireland, and addressing housing concerns.

ILMI’s Strategies for Change Programme
IMAGE: Photo shows Fiona smiling

Last Tuesday marked the launch of our successful Strategies for Change Programme, now in its third run, in collaboration with Possibilities Plus. We began with introductions and a discussion about the course, shedding light on Independent Living Movement Ireland’s mission to support disabled individuals in exploring and understanding the concept of disability. We emphasized the importance of challenging societal perceptions and promoting the rights of all disabled people. Our aim is to create a barrier-free Ireland where choice and control over support are central. The real issue, as we see it, lies in how society perceives us, and we’re committed to championing the social model of disability throughout the program, exploring this concept in upcoming sessions using innovative tools like Lego Serious Play©.

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