ILMI 14th January 2022

National housing strategy for disabled people 2022-2027 launch

The new National housing strategy for disabled people 2022 to 2027 was launched today Friday 14th of January 2022 by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien, Minister Anne Rabbitte and Minister Peter Burke.

ILMI really welcomes the launch of the New National Housing Strategy for Disabled people 2022 to 2027 and we hope that the new strategy will implement change so that disabled people can live independently with the appropriate accommodation, choices, and independent living supports as per article 19 of the UNCRPD.

ILMI as a national DPO was delighted to be represented and involved in the National advisory group in relation to this new strategy. ILMI would like to commend the Housing Agency and the relevant Departments involved in getting this strategy to launch today.

The vision of the strategy is “to facilitate disabled people to live independently with the appropriate choices and control over where, how and with whom they live, promoting their inclusion in the community. To further enable equal access for disabled people to housing with integrated support services”. The new strategy has six main themes:
•            Accessible Housing and Communities
•            Interagency Collaboration and the Provision of Support
•            Affordability of Housing
•            Communication and Access to Information
•            Knowledge, Capacity, and Expertise
•            Strategy Alignment

ILMI also welcomes the use of the social model of language throughout the strategy which reflects values of equality and empowerment, echoing that our impairments don’t disable us and that it society, structures, attitudes and systems that do.

Finally, ILMI welcomes the call for people with lived experience onto the local Housing Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs). ILMI positively supports that the Housing and Disability Steering Group structure will be maintained and strengthened over the lifetime of the new national Strategy. As you know over the course of 2021 ILMI hosted online programmes such as “Making Inclusion a Reality “and “The ILMI Housing Network” to prepare and build our members capacity to enable them to contribute and participate effectively on their HDSGs locally. We look forward to continuing this work in 2022 by running a new phase of the “ILMI Housing network” This network sets out to prepare disabled people to represent ILMI on these structures.

If you want to join the new ILMI Housing Network email our Policy Officer on

ILMI will work towards creating an analysis of the “National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022 – 2027” which will be published on our website in the near future.

You can access the National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022 – 2027 and other research which informed the Strategy HERE

ILMI VOICE Project update – Meet the Team!

IMAGE: photo of Nicola Meacle

Meet our new ILMI team member Nicola Meacle! Nicola has joined us as a Community Development Worker on the VOICE project. You can contact her at

I first heard about the independent living movement in the early nineties when I attended an event organised by a group of Dublin-based disabled activists. My public health nurse volunteered with the Irish Wheelchair Association and had seen a poster.

I was living with my Parents in the countryside at that time and it was life-changing for me to hear disabled people articulating what I had felt intuitively i.e.  Disabled people had the right to self-determination and to pursue the same aspirations as their non-disabled peers. Prior to that meeting, I hadn’t heard about the concept of Personal Assistance and it was the missing link I had been waiting for.

After graduating from UCC with a degree in social science, I worked in CORK CIL for approx. 20 years where I saw the significant and positive impact that Personal Assistance made in disabled people’s lives. The PA Service is one part of the jig saw that makes independent living possible. There is an interconnected importance of housing, personal assistance, transport, and an accessible physical environment in terms of achieving independent living. For those elements to be in place requires a commitment to and understanding of the social model of disability.

I also worked with Northside Community Enterprises as a CE Supervisor, supporting long-term unemployed people to gain the skills to access mainstream employment.”

Meet the newest member of the ILMI Staff Team Paula Soraghan.

Paula has joined us as a Community Development Worker on the VOICE Project. You can contact Paula at

IMAGE: photo of Paula Soraghan

Paula started working with ILMI in January 2022 as a Community Development Worker for the VOICE project. She identifies as a proud disabled woman and advocate since discovering the social model of disability when she attended ILMI’s 2019 AGM.

She has a Joint BA from Maynooth University, A HDip in Drama Education from Griffith College, Dublin, and she is studying Disability Equality in St Angela’s College Sligo,

She is very passionate about the social model of disability and the importance of disabled people’s lived experience through a social model perspective to bring about positive social change.

She understands the importance of online spaces that help build community and empower disabled activists to create social change as she is an active member in ILMI, also.

She wants disabled people to feel confident and in control of their lives and ensure that they are reaching their full potential in their communities.

Our Virtual Online Inclusive Communities for Empowerment (VOICE) project, which is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development has now officially commenced!

ILMI’s VOICE Project is a community development project with the focus on bringing disabled people together in collective spaces. It is based on digital networking, peer mentoring support and activism with disabled people in the south of Ireland (CHO areas 4 and 5).

As a genuine Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) we recognise, first and foremost, that disabled people must have the equality of opportunity to become active members in their communities. Spaces need to be created and resourced to build a collective shared analysis and for representatives to be supported to bring collective voices to inform mainstream service provision and policy development.

VOICE will inform, mentor and support disabled people to build authentic local representative structures and build the capacity of local mainstream services to promote real inclusion of disabled people. VOICE will work with each participant to develop Personal Action Plans, identifying and developing goals through effectively accessing local mainstream services that reduce isolation while improving health and wellbeing.

ILMI will also provide technical guidance to mainstream local community, sporting, educational and cultural organisations in relation to Disability Equality Training, access, engagement and inclusion in order to promote involvement of disabled people in their communities.

Life in a Wheelchair Inspired Cork Man to Develop Inclusive and Sustainable Clothing Line


For a man who is the co-founder of a clothing brand, Nathan Kirwan admits he is a reluctant participant in the fashion industry.

Nathan, from Currabinny, sustained a spinal chord injury from a fall in 2013 and life in a wheelchair since then has thrown up all sorts of challenges.

“Clothing was one of the challenges I had to overcome; dressing in general,” he explains.

“I found clothes just weren’t suitable for sitting in,they weren’t functional. I used to have issues putting them on and then when they were on they didn’t always stay on, or fall the way you’d expect them to.”

Read the full article here

ILMI eBulletin Christmas 2021

Merry Christmas from your ILMI team. Remember if you want more information on any of our projects or activities just contact us at 

IMAGE: cartoon showing residents of a care home visiting Santa with the text ‘Happy Days Care Home Santa Visit. Dear Santa, all we want for Christmas is equality, independence and the right to represent ourselves as disabled people. Santa: my advisors here think you might enjoy a day trip to the zoo instead’. 2 minutes later. ‘Resident: it is time for Plan B. What was that again? We’re going to raise an ILMI army and storm the North Pole!’
Credit to Johnny Connaughton for image design.
Message from our Chairperson

I have been given this space to wish all of you, members and staff of ILMI a most happy Christmas and a safe passage into 2022. This year now ending, is leaving us, like last year, with the same sense of time and personal opportunities stolen or lost due to the persistence of Covid19 which endures and transforms as it leaves us, becoming an endemic virus with which we must go beyond surviving to live more freely again in 2022 and beyond. I hope you will also take many happy and positives memories out of the year ending from the contact with and due to the work of our staff.

I feel that we have grown closer, this year as an ILMI family of members. We have taken time to learn from one another’s experience in 2021 as we will always do when sharing experiences of living with disability. We were offered up a fine fare of zoom opportunities to engage on a growing range of topics, subjects, learning and entertainment by ILMI and Onside staff whom I want to thank on your and my own behalf. We reflected but also laid down pathways into our rights-based future guided by the various articles of the UNCRPD which our CEO, Damien, embodied for and with us into policies which were distributed systematically and widely.

I want also to thank my co-directors, without whose advice, assistance and support I could not have discharged my humble duties as chair which I see as a role of encouraging others to believe in one’s self and to grow while combining the strength of individuals into that collective force for change which is ILMI.

Des Kenny, ILMI Chairperson
2021 Reflection from our CEO

It hardly seems possible, but it is time to reflect on 2021 and all of the work that ILMI as a collective has achieved. Year on year, ILMI as a cross-impairment DPO continues to grow and grow and that is testament to the principles of community development which drive our work: Collectivity; Participation, Community Empowerment; Social Justice and Sustainable Development; Human Rights, Equality and Anti-discrimination. Putting those principles into action has meant that we continue to have disabled people actively involved in all aspects of and leading our work over the course of 2021 and beyond.

As an organisation we have much to be proud of. Each year, writing this end of year review gets more and more difficult. We have done some genuinely incredible work as everyone will know from our weekly mail shots. Picking highlights from 2021 and at the same time trying to be concise is a challenge, but bear with me as I try to remind us all of some of our significant successes as a Movement this year.

Our INTERREG funded ONSIDE project, led by Programme Co-ordinator Peter Kearns, has reached its half-way stage at the end of 2021. By the end of the year, ILMI ONSIDE staff will have supported the involvement of just over 500 disabled people across Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth. Disabled people on ONSIDE are involved in social inclusion and digital skills training and supported into mainstream training, education and social inclusion spaces in their locality as well as being supported into other ILMI peer, policy and social spaces. ONSIDE staff are leading the exciting development of local DPOs supported by ILMI in Donegal, Leitrim and Louth and over the course of 2022, Cavan and Monaghan. ONSIDE also created the first ever Youth Camp for young disabled people, which was held over two weeks in the summer. Our ONSIDE staff are continuing to break new ground delivering social-model disability equality training to NUIM, ETBs and to community groups.

Funding secured towards the end of 2020 allowed us to run a number of new, innovative projects this year. At the start of January, our innovative online activism programme Strategies for Change began. Co-ordinated by Fiona Weldon this programme worked with 15 emerging disabled activists over the course of 2021, finishing on Tuesday 14th December. It has been a huge success and the participants involved will take on key roles to drive the work of ILMI in the future. We are looking forward to recognising their achievements early in 2022 and also to the beginning of Strategies for Change 2.

In April we started our Creating Raised Expectations and Aspirations Towards Employment (CREATE) project. Funded by Pobal, CREATE works with disabled people to develop their confidence and skills that supports them to start or progress on their employment pathway. Led by Patrick Flanagan, CREATE coordinator, with support from CREATE life coach Eileen Daly, ILMI developed online group coaching, employment skills workshops and peer mentoring to support disabled people to explore employment and training options and this will continue in 2022.

The ONSIDE process of supporting local DPOs will be central to the Department of Rural and Community Development Virtual Online Inclusive Communities for Empowerment (VOICE) project. VOICE will begin in January 2022 and will work with disabled people in counties Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford. It is a welcome development that will allow us to build a stronger movement.

We continued to offer online spaces for training, consultation and peer spaces. The ILMI Women’s Group continued over 2021 as did our innovative Youth Space. We were also proud to support the ever-talented artist Isolde ÓBrolcháin Carmody, in rolling out a ‘Web Spinning’ Online Writers’ Group.

Our peer spaces continued to inform consultations within ILMI, including our CRPD consultation process. The resulting submission document is one that we can be especially proud of in its scope and detail. Our consultations led to: a submission on the review of the Mental Health Act; a submission on the Student Grant Scheme; an overview of the Disability Capacity Review; and a review of the Equality Legislation. We also published our IHREC funded project with South Dublin County Council Making Inclusion a Reality and our joint Housing campaign document with Inclusion Ireland “Our Housing Rights.

Our experiences from 2020 in managing online spaces meant that in 2021 we could expand and evolve our approaches to build a sense of community within the Movement. We were lucky to have guest speakers for social events such as Adam Pearson, Richard Butchins, Neven Maguire, Phil Friend and the powerhouse that is Judy Heumann. On March 8th as part of International Women’s Day, ILMI held our first online IWD event with Nina Tame, Izzy Keane, Mary Collins and Sarah Fitzgerald. Later that month we were joined by Jo Watson and Dr James Davies from A Disorder for Everyone (AD4E) to critically challenge the medicalisation of emotional distress and pain, which is very part of our social-model analysis of disability. In May we held our first “Everything You Wanted to Know about Disability but were afraid to ask” where Peter Kearns acted as MC to interview Maggie Cameron and a panel of Des Kenny, Selina Bonnie and Amy Hassett to explore the role of DPOs and the social model of disability. This was a huge event open to non-disabled people with over 500 people attending this webinar. One of the most energising events we created in 2021 was CEOL21, an online music festival featuring James McCrory, Louis Younge and band, Hubert McCormack, Robbie Sinnott, Davey Cashin and the Kilkennys, Emilie Conway, Glen Hansard, Tolü Makay, Mundy and John Kelly. All of these events are recorded and available on our ever-expanding ILMI Youtube Channel, which we will continue to add to in 2022.

During 2021 ILMI was also proud to participate in the Assisted Human Reproduction coalition, the Irish Network Against Racism, Community Platform, Add the 10th Alliance, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland, Community Work Ireland, the Coalition Against Hate Crime and the National Women’s Council.

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 in 2021. I especially want to acknowledge the huge amount of work that the Board of Directors has put in over the course of this year.

On a personal level, I want to recognise the support and guidance that Des Kenny gives as chairperson of ILMI. I also want to recognise the work of Selina Bonnie (Vice Chair), Jacqui Brown (Secretary), Gordon Ryan (Treasurer), Brian Dalton, Ann Marie Flanagan, Seònaid Ó Murchadha, Sinead Murtagh, Aoife McNicholl, Dr John Roche, as well as recognising the contributions of our Sarah Fitzgerald and Audrey Brodigan who stepped down from the board over the after the AGM in September.

We are extremely fortunate to have such skilled, creative and committed staff members that bring so much to the organisation. I want to acknowledge the work of the staff team: Orla Beirne, Fiona Brennan, Susan O’Brien, Nina Byrne, Dr James Casey, James Cawley, Angela Coleman, Patrick Flanagan, Shelly Gaynor, Edel McGinley, Peter Kearns, Claire Kenny, Clive Lowry, Mark McCollum, Fiona Weldon and Audrey Wilson. As CEO I want to thank them all for their dedication, expertise and passion they bring to their roles and their work as a team. I want to thank Niamh Cummins from Mohill Community College and Linda McCourt NUI Maynooth who joined ILMI on placement as part of their education in 2021 and will continue to do so into 2022.

During 2021 we also sadly lost our ILMI member James Brosnan, who passed away in November. James was a proud and active member of ILMI and a key part of the national Independent Living movement. We express our deep gratitude to James for all he brought to the Movement and our sincere sympathy to his family and friends on his loss.

And finally, I want to acknowledge the huge contribution made by disabled people who have been involved in the work of ILMI in so many different ways. Despite the challenges we have collectively faced, ILMI has become a stronger DPO that has connected disabled people across Ireland. We have embraced technology as a means to bring people together, to grow together, to discuss and analyse and campaign for inclusion as a vibrant, grassroots-led Movement.

On behalf of all the board and staff of ILMI, I wish you a merry Christmas and look forward to working with you all in the New Year.

A Policy Review

Its been another very busy year online and once again we raised the bar in ensuring the voice of disabled people is clearly heard at every level of policy development. Through this reflection we look at some of the main areas of policy development in 2021.

IMAGE: collage of screenshots from some of the ILMI zooms during the year.
UNCRPD Consultations
Earlier this year ILMI led a series of ten consultation spaces based on the draft UN report. These consultation spaces connected hundreds of disabled people in the areas of Housing, Independent Living supports, Transport, Education, Employment, Accessibility, family life, issues that impact young disabled people and disabled women and girls. Through these consultation sessions a Submission was compiled for the Department to ensure the voice of lived experience was brought to the fore.
IMAGE: screenshot of the promo leaflet for the UNCRPD consultations.

As a National Disabled Person’s Organisation (DPO) ILMI is always working to build representation of disabled people on decision-making structures that impact upon our lives. Our Community Platform groups in Longford and Offaly continued to capitalise on their work over the previous twelve months. In March, based on consultation with both the Community Platforms and our wider members it was identified that there needed to be support put in place to build disabled people’s capacity when joining decision making structures such as Housing Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs).

IMAGE: screenshot of one of the Housing Network zooms.

As a result ILMI developed the ILMI Housing Network. Its aim was to see disabled people join their local housing disability steering group (HDSG) and represent ILMI bringing a collective, authentic voice to these local structures. Through research ILMI conducted in early 2019, under the National Housing Strategy for disabled people it was unclear at that time if people of lived experience were being represented on these HDSGs. Since then ILMI welcomed the call for lived experience on these decision making structures and ILMI was delighted to join the Departments Housing subgroup and the National Advisory group to assist in the writing of the the new National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022 to 2027. 
With housing being an important piece of the independent living jigsaw, ILMI recognises the importance of Independent Living supports for many of their members. As per Article 19 of the UNCRPD disabled people have a right to live in and be part of their communities with a range of in home supports which include Personal Assistance Services (PAS), Assistive Technology (AT), home help, assistance with making decisions or adaptions to the home.

IMAGE: screenshot of the Our Housing Right report with the Inclusion Ireland and ILMI logos.

We were also proud to be part of the launch of the Making Inclusion a Reality report which looked at developing a best practice model for these HDSGs. In September, ILMI worked in collaboration with Inclusion Ireland and developed the “Our Housing Rights” report,  which we look forward to working with Inclusion Ireland in 2022 to develop this collaboration. Finally, continuing with the housing theme we were delighted to work with the NDA in December around their comprehensive economic and social evaluation of Universal Design homes. 
In terms of Independent Living supports, we know from the publication of the Department of health’s Capacity Review in July of this year that just over 2,500 people were receiving a Personal Assistance Service (PAS) with an average of 12 hours of support a week. ILMI fully recognises that this is not an adequate amount of PAS for everyone who needs a PAS to live a life of choice, dignity and respect so we have been continuously campaigning to move towards legalising a right to a PAS. After a unanimous Dail motion passing on PAS in November 2019, ILMI has been working in collaboration with all local authorities to ensure support for the Motion at local level. Only a small number of local authorities have yet to show their support for the Motion and ILMI look forward to working to secure all local authorities’ support early 2022.

In addition to supporting many individuals in their quest to obtain adequate PAS ILMI also facilitated the ILMI PAS peer support group to allow Leaders of their PAS to share a space to discuss and support others around their PAS. This space was also instrumental in bringing together a consultative group on ‘Dining, Tourism and Accessible Spaces’; given the impact of continuing public health restrictions on accessibility. ThePAS peer support group also worked with the HSE Quality Improvement team to develop COVID guidelines for Personal Assistance Services (PAS) and went on to support a separate Working Group on Deinstitutionalisation. 
IMAGE: screenshot of James Cawley participating in the Joint Committee on Disability Matters.

In terms of representation ILMI have appeared and engaged with the Joint Committee on Disability Matters, the HSE quality improvement team, HSE disability advisory group, the National Transport Authorities taxi advisory group, the comprehensive employment strategy implementation group, the ODG, IHREC, the community platform, NYCI, youth work Ireland, EAPN and the NDA.
For further information please visit our website ( where many of our Submissions are available to download:  – ILMI Submission to the review of the Equality Legislation– ILMI Submission to the Public Consultation on Disability Social Care Services – ILMI review of the Department of Health Disability Capacity Review– ILMI Submission to the Student Grant Scheme Review– ILMI Observations on the State Report– Submission on the Mental Health Act 2001– ILMI Submission on the Dying With Dignity BillIf you want to find out more information about Independent Living Movement Ireland’s policy work you can get in contact with our Policy Officer James Cawley at:

ILMI Women’s Group 

IMAGE: graphic for the ILMI Women’s Day event.

Over the last year the ILMI Women’s Group has met regularly and continued to grow in strength. The group has a diverse mix of women that come together to discuss a range of topics including disabled women’s health issues, transport, advocacy and more everyday light-hearted things such as the latest Netflix series!
Throughout the year we were also delighted to support the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign, run a highly successful International Women’s Day event and be represented by our Peer Mentor Shelly Gaynor at a number of national Women’s Day events.

If you identify as a disabled woman and would like to know how you can get involved with the ILMI women’s group then please contact Shelly at 

ONSIDE Reflections
As we reach the end of an extremely busy year for our ONSIDE crew Programme Co-ordinator Peter Kearns provides an overview of some of the year’s main activities.

ILMI ONSIDE Participant Targets are through the New Year roof

IMAGE: screenshot of some of the ONSIDE cohort 1 Zoom group.

ILMI’s cross border social inclusion & IT project team of ONSIDE have just completed the graduation of a further fifty-plus youth and adult disabled participants on their ninth Cohort-‘I’ group for end of 2021. The current fantastic crop of graduates from November to December’s ILMI ONSIDE 6-week programme are topping-up our project participant numbers to just over 500 of an overall ILMI Project target of 625 graduates by autumn 2022. The ILMI ONSIDE Team can’t believe time has flown by so quickly since their first group graduated at Donegal and Monaghan community centres just before the Covid March 2020 Lockdown. Immediately on the national declaration of the pandemic Lockdown in mid March 2020, the ILMI Coordinator Peter Kearns rallied the team to transfer every border county programme of events onto Zoom and they successfully had created a busy weekly timetable of on-line workshops for signed-up participants from April 2020 onwards.

ONSIDE Coordinator Peter Kearns tells ILMI’s E-Bulletin Xmas-special that: “Our border county team of Community Navigators & Mentors and our Disability Equality IT & Social Inclusion Officer Dr James Casey have been incredibly successful in their transformation of training onto weekly zoom classes”. The team are on target to reach their overall participant numbers before ILMI’s final ONSIDE Cohort-‘M’ at end of August 2022. Peter also praised “ILMI’s ONSIDE Administrator whiz-kid Angela Coleman for keeping all the paperwork flowing to our EU INTERREG funders”. The New Year begins with a group of over 50 participants getting their hand delivered free Tablet & IT accessories before starting their 6-week programme from ILMI’s ONSIDE border counties long waiting-list on week of 24th January.

2021 has been such a busy year for the ILMI ONSIDE Team of five Community Navigators (CN): Clive Lowry (Louth), Audrey Wilson (Sligo/Leitrim), Mark McCollum (Cavan), Edel McGinley (Monaghan) and Orla Beirne (Donegal). Each ‘CN’ recruit and facilitate One-to-One support & mentoring to disabled people who may feel somewhat isolated in border rural and urban communities. The team then deliver a 6-week programme of IT and social inclusion workshops with our project partners that leads to participants graduating with an ONSIDE Certificate and their own Tablet and access chosen accessories. ILMI’s CNs prepare and hand deliver the Tablets to participants at the start of the social inclusion relationship and some months later, complete the One-to-One process by having individual Personal-Action-Plans towards graduates effectively engaging with their local communities.

ILMI’s ONSIDE project has evolved into many strands and tangents with our Northern Ireland partners. Coordinator Peter has just completed his cross border creative-writing 4-week programme  with participants from our NI Disability Action partner and ILMI’s ONSIDE graduates, with the new writers finishing their project reflections through Japanese Haiku poems and short stories. The creative work is going towards gathering case study materials with ONSIDE Researcher Dr Emma O’Neill towards end-of-project target of 100 participant lived experiences. Peter will deliver another 4-week prog. In New Year. With our ILMI video editing guru John Owens Peter has finished editing ten short films based on ILMI graduates experiences of ONSIDE’s many workshops and on-line social inclusion spaces. Peter has also booked actor/activist Mat Fraser to appear on our new year Social-Evening gig and has got ONSIDE partners to confirm booking and fee payment of Mat to be main ‘motivational-speaker’ at the next ONSIDE cross border event on 24th February 2022.

Coordinator continues to facilitate monthly Mentoring Zoom workshops with the ILMI ONSIDE team to support their One-to-One and local DPO development. Peter has also mentored and supported Louth Community Navigator Clive to lead the county’s Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) launch on 3rd Dec. UN International Day for Disabled People. The 80-participant attended webinar included Peter interviewing UK activist Phil Friend of NOT-DEAD-YET. ONSIDE Community Navigator Audrey of Leitrim DPO organised a group event/celebration for week of 3rd December 2021 with presentation by ONSIDE graduate and Full-Spectrum speaker Niall Jordan from Carrick-on-Shannon. ILMI’s ONSIDE Navigator Orla continued her support for the organic process of DPO confidence building in Donegal. Monaghan’s Edel and Cavan’s Mark are aiming to launch their individual county DPO’s in May 2022 on European Independent-Living Day.

ILMI ONSIDE creative responses to Isolation and pandemic

IMAGE: The ONSIDE logo with the text ONSIDE is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and share experiences and ideas.

We are currently waiting for subtitles to be completed for the current ten ILMI ONSIDE case-study promo videos already edited and will launch the eclectic video shorts onto social media platforms in early 2022. ILMI ONSIDE team are keen to record further graduate interviews until near end of project in November 2022. Coordinator has also facilitated ILMI’s film workshops since spring 2021 with Leitrim film maker Johnny Gogan and ILMI post-production guru John Owens and participants exhibited their finished 3-minute shorts at end of October final 2021 film workshop. The short films will join photography and art work created during the pandemic by ILMI members on the spring launch of our ‘IS’ Gallery (‘IS’ stands for the Invisible Shadow Gallery).

ILMI ONSIDE Presentations and DET Workshops
The ILMI ONSIDE Team delivered presentations to mainstream and disability-sector organisations throughout the border counties and national platforms such as NDA, NAS, IHREC, ETB, HSE, Area Partnerships/Leader and other DPO collectives. Coordinator Peter started 2021 by training-up the ILMI ONSIDE Team in Disability Equality Training (DET) and mentored team members to deliver DET workshops to our 6-week programme participants throughout the Covid embraced year. ILMI ONSIDE team have also delivered numerous Disability Equality Training workshops to community & voluntary sector national and local organisations. Many of the team’s DET national workshops were delivered to mental health staff & volunteers of organisations who are members of Community Development Mental Health Network and Mental Health Reform Network. The online DET workshops designed by ILMI ONSIDE Coordinator Peter Kearns have resulted in many national organisations clarifying a social model definition of term ‘Disability’ related to mental health labels.

Coordinator also delivered DET workshops to Community Workers Irl. and published a 4-page Dec. 3rd article for Community Workers Irl. magazine. Peter’s challenging article reflected on disability equality’s relationship with a sometimes ‘distant’ community development sector. Coordinator is also a member of North West Drugs & Alcohol Taskforce and was at November guest panel speaker at the International Nursing and Midwifery Studies Conference with St. Angela’s College Sligo. At such conferences throughout 2021 Peter introduced the theme of medical model Intersectionality versus a social model Intersectionality approach in partnership with DPOs.

2021 ILMI ONSIDE YouthCamp

IMAGE: a poster for the inaugural ILMI ONSIDE Youth Camp.

June of 2021 saw ILMI ONSIDE team delivery of the first ever disability equality YouthCamp in ROI to a group of 17 to 22 years old from the border counties. The two week of social inclusion workshops involved inviting new and regular guest speakers on mainstream community, health & well-being topics –  including themes of: further adult education with ETB, YouthWork Irl., BELONG LGBTQ+, on-line security and banking, CREATE with Patrick, local Development Co., ONSIDE Peer Researcher Co-ordinator and two Disability Equality Training workshops with Coordinator. Apart from repeating and expanding the YouthCamp for summer 2022, ILMI ONSIDE has now established long-term disability equality capacity building relationships with YouthWork Irl. and BELONG.
2021 ILMI ONSIDE Team support enabling Strategic Plan
2021 saw ILMI ONSIDE team deliver individual and group supports beyond just hitting targets for their cross border project. ILMI’s Orla, Audrey and Edel are currently supporting the Women’s Group to source some great speakers for next year’s March 8th International Women’s Day ILMI eclectic celebrations. Dr James Casey is looking forward to ILMI’s spring big media panel of disabled activists and TV personalities. James has also supported ILMI’s Youth-Collective throughout 2021 and ONSIDE’s Louth Community Navigator has also joined Dr Casey in helping-out with the Collective’s sexuality & relationship programme of workshops facilitated by YouthWork Irl.. ONSIDE Administrator, while keeping our INTERREG funders happy with the project’s mound of paperwork, continues to keep ILMI’s accounts and wages in ship-shape order.
Coordinator Peter Kearns will be supported by Cavan’s Community Navigator Mark McCollum and Louth activist & dramatist Paula Soraghan to organise in 2022 in-person workshops (when public health restrictions allow) at Carmichael House Dublin. This will facilitate a pool of disabled actors to consider auditioning for recently Arts Council funded play ‘NO MAGIC PILL’, towards its autumn premiers in Galway and Tallaght theatres. Apart from being in no doubt about successfully reaching its participant project numbers in mid 2022, the ONSIDE team is already looking at how ILMI can be a lead partner in a possible 2023 onwards ONSIDE-2 or ONSIDE-Rides-Again programme of border county DPOs set-ups and Social Inclusion supports for ILMI members and supporters. The ILMI ONSIDE Team wish all our participants and graduates a happy Xmas and an active new year.


IMAGE: the word CREATE

The world of work can be a challenging place to navigate and manage your journey through. For disabled people, these challenges are often more significant due to impairment or barriers to access, which are systemic across all sectors of work, training, and education.

For the world of work to be fully accessible and inclusive, there are three broad areas where challenges need to be addressed and barriers removed: Personal, Professionals, and Societal. The initial focus of the CREATE project has been on the Personal – factors unique to each disabled person and relating to their own impairment, experiences, and goals.

Over the past 6 months the CREATE programme has delivered two programmes of Life Coaching, Skills Workshops, and Peer Mentoring with the aim of supporting CREATE candidates to grow their personal and professional confidence, identify opportunities and pathways to pursue, and the knowledge and skills to help them do so.

CREATE has been fortunate to have so far worked with outstanding facilitators and speakers in the delivery of its programmes, which we are truly thankful for. Most importantly it was ran with two incredible groups of people who have established a community of peers. These groups are now both learning what they need to do to achieve their employment goals and also teaching us what disabled people as a collective need to do to make sure that the world of work is fully accessible and inclusive for all. This, along with their own individual successes which have included work experience opportunities, participation in education and training courses, and independent living supports, means CREATE can be very confident and excited for what it has achieved in 2021 and what it hopes to achieve in 2022.

To learn more about CREATE and what it can offer please contact Patrick at

ILMI Youth Collective – A Year in Review

IMAGE: graphic of young disabled people with various impairments.

2021 was the second year of ILMI’s Youth Collective that began in July 2020 and what a year it has been! Supported by two dynamic ILMI staff: Dr. James Casey (ONSIDE Support Officer) and James Cawley (ILMI Policy Officer) the group has gone from strength to strength.

In the past twelve months the gang has actively engaged with several governmental and non-governmental agencies. One exciting space included Youth Work Ireland (thanks very much Tracey) providing a series of workshops on sex, relationships and consent. This particular programme was first run in our Onside Youth Camp, which took place in June and proved to be both great craic and productive for all participants. It is important to acknowledge the unique nature of these workshops. Never before have young disabled people in Ireland discussed issues of sex, consent and relation in a social model guided space.

Indeed, many of the consultations which the Youth Collective took part in were unique engagements between a DPO youth group and other organisations. For example, we took part in two consultation spaces with the National Disability Authority (thanks Maeve!). We were invited and gave our position to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (thanks Fidelma!) about what we would like them to focus on in their new strategic plan. The National Youth Council of Ireland (thanks Anne) came to the collective to ask what young disabled people feel is important in the shaping of the EU, and the Youth Collective were also central in shaping ILMI’s CRPD shadow report specifically relating to the articles on young persons.

These were tough spaces. These were not tokenistic consultations; the Youth Collective made sure they were not these types of discourses and to be fair, neither did the organisations that came to engage with us. They know that the collective is not constructed along impairment lines. That it is a part of a national DPO and that we work, as ever, from the foundation of the social model. In each of these consultation spaces the measured and direct response by the collective was impressive. While sharing our impairments amongst ourselves and mutual experience of inequality, we know that working cooperatively, together is the most effective way to affect change. We hope and believe that we are doing our small part in making Ireland a fairer place for disabled people. Nobody can speak for us, but us.

We are looking forward to another year causing ripples and making dents in the neoliberalism disability industry sector wall. Each of our consultations, each of our policy engagements and each of our acts of activism, no matter what the size or shape. Each time we call them out – that is another is another crack, another foundation becoming shaky, in their wall of oppression.

Happy Christmas from the Youth Collective to the wider ILMI family and thank you for your support.
Nothing about us, without us! Rights not charity, and sure why not – Fight the power!

Something for Everyone…

As COVID continued to change the way we lived over the past 12 months ILMI continued to respond with new and exciting ways to keep us linked together.
The New Year kicked off with a Healthy New You programme, which included ‘Eat Well, Feel Better’ with Alexia Treanor and ‘Yoga and Stretching’ with Sean Byrne. These new well-being programmes were really well received with a waitlist quickly developing for both sessions. As a result a second round of nutrition and wellbeing classes took place during the summer.

IMAGE: graphic of the CEOL21 Promo Poster.

In March CEOL21 was born to provide a night in to remember. With a stunning line-up of musical talent, ranging from Mundy to Tolu Makay the night didn’t disappoint. Over 200 disabled people tuned in for some serious fun, which continued well into the wee hours.

As we continued to socialise differently we also held a number of high profile social events during the year. A huge thanks to Richard Butchins, Nevin Maguire, Adam Pearson, Judy Heumann and Phil Friend for taking the time to provide a highly entertaining social evening for our members.

IMAGE: screenshot of some of the ILMI Social night posters during the year.

As always thanks for your ongoing support for making these events so successful. If you have an idea of an online space you would like to see us focus on in 2022 do let us know at

Happy Christmas from All of Us!

As 2021 draws to a close we thank you sincerely for all your support, interaction, ideas and encouragement. We wouldn’t be ILMI without you all! Have a wonderful Christmas and our ILMI team will be back to your computer screens, meeting rooms and lives in January 2022!

Image: A graphic of a Christmas tree with the text Merry Christmas from all the ILMI staff team. May all your Christmas Wishes come true!

Alliance for Insurance Reform Welcomes its Latest Member


Disability Federation says “the increasing cost of insurance is now taking from the provision of services”

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has welcomed its latest member, the Disability Federation of Ireland, DFI.

The DFI is the national support organisation for voluntary disability groups in Ireland. The DFI is funded through HSE and member direct funding and has over 100 members who range from large national organisations to local, community-based charities. Voluntary disability organisations provide the majority of disability services within Ireland today including residential, home care, respite, therapeutic, personal assistance support services and more.

John Dolan, CEO the DFI said “Rising insurance renewal premiums are a concern to organisations of voluntary disability services because they have to take money from delivering services to pay increasing insurance cost”.

Peter Boland, Director of the Alliance said “We warmly welcome the DFI to our Alliance, but it is frustrating that an organisation so focused on providing such essential services should feel the need to join our campaign. Insurance should not be on their agenda. We call on the Government to urgently accelerate the pace of insurance reform so that DFI members can focus on doing what they were established to do.

”In particular, we ask that Government prioritise the following real reforms:

  1. Seek additional underwriting capacity for the Irish market, including the voluntary sector, to improve competition and insure sectors that currently cannot get cover.
  2. Review and re-balance the “common duty of care” to require occupiers to take a duty of care that is reasonable, practical, and proportionate.
  3. Reform and strengthen Personal Injuries Assessment Board, PIAB
  4. Insist on insurers delivering immediate reductions for delivered and planned reform.

The Alliance now brings together 46 civic and business organisations from across Ireland, representing over 55,000 members, 700,000 employees, 599,000 volunteers and 374,000 students in highlighting the negative impact of persistently high premiums and calling for real reforms that will quickly reduce liability and motor insurance premiums to affordable levels and keep them that way.


The Alliance now brings together 46 civic and business organisations from across Ireland, representing over 55,000 members, 700,000 employees, 622,000 volunteers and 374,000 students in highlighting the negative impact of persistently high premiums and calling for real reforms that will quickly reduce liability and motor insurance premiums to affordable levels and keep them that way. Our members include:

  • AOIFE Ireland (Association of Irish Festival Events)
  • Car Rental Council of Ireland
  • Childminding Ireland
  • Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland
  • Community Reuse Network Ireland
  • Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association
  • Cork Business Association
  • Disability Federation of Ireland
  • Early Childhood Ireland
  • Family Business Network Ireland
  • Federation of Irish Sport
  • Galway Chamber
  • Galway City Business Association
  • Galway County Public Participation Network (PPN)
  • Historic Houses of Ireland
  • Home and Community Care Ireland
  • Incoming Tour Operators Association Ireland
  • Ireland Active
  • Ireland’s Association for Adventure Tourism
  • Irish Caravan and Camping Council
  • Irish Charity Shops Association
  • Irish Concrete Federation
  • Irish Hotels Federation
  • Irish Road Haulage Association
  • Irish Showman’s Guild
  • Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network
  • Irish Travel Agents Association
  • ISME
  • Licensed Vintners Association
  • Motorsport Ireland
  • National Campaign for the Arts
  • Nursing Homes Ireland
  • Play Activity and Leisure Ireland
  • Quick Service Food Alliance
  • Restaurants Association of Ireland
  • Retail Excellence
  • Sligo PPN
  • Society of the Irish Motor Industry
  • South Dublin County PPN
  • Sport Ireland
  • Theatre Forum
  • Union of Students in Ireland
  • Vintners Federation of Ireland
  • Volunteer Ireland
  • The Wheel (Ireland’s national association for community, voluntary and charitable organisations)


Cathy McGrath

Project and Membership Development Manager

Disability Federation of Ireland, DFI

086 3847440

National Sharing Day Webinar: Challenges to Independent Living – UNCRPD Article 19


Thanks to everyone who helped make the National Sharing Day webinar such a success.

The topic was Challenges to Independent Living – UNCRPD Article 19.

All of the presentations were delivered by Disabled people (with help from their support persons where appropriate). The webinar included a message from Minister Ann Rabbitte and a keynote address from the Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI). Each presentation is also accompanied by an ISL interpreter.

View the recording here

View the presentations below:

Padraic Hayes Presentation

James Cawley Presentation

Aoife McNicholl Presentation

Red Weather Alert Cork 7th December 2021


Met Éireann has issued a RED ALERT warning for Cork, and are forecasting very strong and disruptive winds and heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.

All social sessions are cancelled for today, Tuesday.

If you have any concerns please contact a member of staff on their mobile number.

If the situation changes we will provide further updates by text and on our website

Stay safe!

ILMI eBulletin “International Day of Disabled People”

As always if you want to know more about any of these articles or ILMI’s work in general then do get in touch. You can reach us at

The only disability in life is a bad attitude

IMAGE: photo of Stella Young who’s anniversary is on the 8th of Dec

“That quote, ‘the only disability in life is a bad attitude’, the reason that’s bullshit is … No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp. No amount of standing in the middle of a bookshelf and radiating a positive attitude is going to turn all those books into braille.”
Stella Young on how ‘inspiration porn’ gets it wrong

Happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 3 December 2021 (Or as we fondly call it “International Day of Disabled People” here in ILMI)

IMAGE: Gold poster with the words: Image: poster with the words: “Happy International Day of Disabled People, from all the ILMI team” and ILMI Logo

Everyone can join on social media by using the hashtags #IDPD  #EveryoneIncluded  #CRPD and promoting this year’s theme on “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”

Secretary- General’s Message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities: only in PDF format unfortunately folks, is here.

Louth DPO

IMAGE: screenshot from zoom launch

Today Friday, 3rd December, at noon, Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI) proudly launched the idea of forming a local Disabled Person’s Organisation (DPO) in County Louth in 2022.

ILMI and Louth Leader Partnership (LLP) collaborated for this event as part of the International Day of Disabled Person’s 2021 celebrations.  Our guest speakers included Maeve Harkin, Senator Erin McGreehan, and video input from our local Co. Louth Disabled activist Paula Soraghan.

ILMI ONSIDE Co Ord Peter Kearns interviewed our international guest speaker UK Disabled activist Phil Friend, and ILMI CEO Damien Walshe was our final panellist to complete a very busy hour.

ILMI wish to say a big thank you to all guest speakers for their valued contributions to this event.  For any disabled activist living in Co. Louth, who would like to get involved with setting up the DPO in 2022,  please email for further details.

The Cost of Disability in Ireland:  RTE Report by Ailbhe Conneely

Image: zoom screenshot in an RTE article with photo of Dr James Casey

Brilliant interview with ILMI’s ONSIDE Dr James Casey with RTE today
“Disabled people are like Irish people in general. We get frustrated and we are unpredictable. Now we’re finding channels for our frustration. With a social model we’re thinking, hang on, the problem isn’t with me.”


The ALL Institute blog – Housing
ILMI Policy Officer James Cawley Blog post:  ‘December 3rd 2021, UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Fighting for Rights in the Post – COVID Era’ has been published on the ALL Institute blog. Can be found here 

The Law Society of Ireland
The Irish Law Society makes no bones about where it stands: “On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities we call on the State to realise its international obligations to Irish people with disabilities”.
Read the article here

Hot Press
Brilliant article featuring ILMI’s policy officer James Cawley and ILMI member Niamh Ní Hoireabhaird journalist and advocate extraordinaire around the lack of inclusion of disabled people in discussions around climate change #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs
Full article is here

“Making Inclusion A reality” Report Launch
Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI) have been working with South Dublin County Council (SDCC) to support the inclusion of disabled people in developing and implementing housing policy and provision in the South Dublin County area over the course of 2021.

Through funding from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), ILMI contracted Values Lab to develop a model of best practice for the participation of disabled people on a local authority Housing Disability Steering Group (HDSG). Our project “Making Inclusion A reality” worked with to establish of a platform of disabled people to enable this participation, and to include a model for the implementation of the public sector equality and human rights duty.

We are very proud to have launched this report on Wednesday 1st December as part of National Accessibility Week with Mayor of South Dublin Councillor Peter Kavanagh. Our launch also featured inputs from Values Lab, Gladys O’Neill from the South Dublin Disability Platform, South Dublin County Council and the Housing Agency. The launch will be available on the ILMI Youtube Channel in due course.

Making Inclusion A Reality can also be accessed and be downloaded as a PDF or MS-Word directly from our website with our other key policy documents here.  

SFC Update: Organising for Change – Representation and Activism

“Hence getting ourselves organised and using what we have learned over the past year in the Strategies for Change Course is a great start to begin “chipping away at systems that exclude us”, as Catherine so rightly puts it.

While they are no “right or wrongs” in terms of Activism, we need to apply what we have learned over the past 20 sessions to strategise for Collective Change. Subsequently, thinking about what we mean by organising for change, how it happens, what we can do when we get organised, and what we mean by representation are vital first steps to prepare us.”
Read the full outstanding article here

ILMI’s 16 Days Of Action Campaign is still going strong

IMAGE: one of the powerful 16 days posts featuring Maureen McGovern.

“As Vice Chair of ILMI, I am delighted that as a Disabled Person’s Organisation that we are participating the Global 16 Days of Action Campaign.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Global 16 Days Campaign.

The campaign aims to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. The statistics in relation to Gender based violence are shocking. Almost one third of woman and girls globally experience gender-based violence over their lifetimes.

Given the intersection of systemic inequalities experienced by disabled women and girls it is sadly not surprising that disabled women are more likely to experience sexual violence. Research has shown that disabled women are four times more likely to experience sexual violence and face forced sterilisation or abortion often without their informed consent. Many disabled women depend on the perpetrator for their daily care or even survival.

It is vital that as a DPO that ILMI takes part in the 16 Days of Action. Living free from violence and abuse is fundamental to quality of living and an independent life. Through our consultations with disabled women for our observations on the State United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCDPRD) report, it was noted that there was a  dangerous and unacceptable shortage  of  support  services  for  disabled  women  accessing  urgent  supports.  Rape Crisis Centres and Women’s Aid are not equipped to deal with the additional needs disabled women present with.  Lack of accessible spaces and inadequate equipment were noted as two areas preventing access to such services. The lack of accessible spaces further demonstrates the additional barriers disabled women and girls face if they experience gender based violence.”

You can read the full article from Selina Bonnie here and follow the 16 day campaign on our social media

Meet ILMI’s new intern Linda Mc Court

IMAGE: Photo of Linda who we are Thrilled to have on board

My name is Linda Mc Court. I am a 3rd year student at Maynooth University, studying for a Batchelor of social science in Community and Youth Work. As part of my course each year I do a work placement within a community or youth work organisation as part of my learning. This year I am happy to be on placement with ILMI and to get the opportunity to experience the work they do to promote equality, inclusion and human rights. ILMI is an organisation I know I will gain invaluable knowledge and experience from over the duration of placement. I also look forward to meeting ILMI members from across Ireland through online activities.
As a mature student it took me some time and some big life changes to realise it was the right time to return to education. Community and youth work are both value based professions that encourage inclusion, active participation, equality and promoting human rights. Over time I do believe we can achieve change as a society locally and globally, but especially if we stand together to become a louder voice!

In the future I hope to work as a community development worker within a rights based organisation to encourage and promote the values of community work.

ILMI discussion on Universal Design

IMAGE: poster of event that is detailed below

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) at the National Disability Authority (NDA) has published Universal Design Guidelines for Homes in Ireland.

Universal Design homes benefit a wide range of people regardless of age or impairment including families with young children, people with a temporary or permanent injury, disabled people and older people living independently.  Adopting Universal Design standards in the construction of homes enables people to live comfortably and safely at home.

The CEUD is currently undertaking a comprehensive economic and social evaluation of UD Homes through the performance of a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) in accordance with the Public Spending Code. As a component of the UD Homes CBA project the NDA are holding structured consultations with DPOs and persons with lived experience of ageing and disabilities, representative bodies and policy experts.

ILMI members have been identified as a valuable contributor to this consultation process.  A consultation will take place between ILMI members and the NDA on Wednesday 8th December at 4pm. If you would like to attend please contact

This event will take place on zoom and the link will be sent to registered participants.