ILMI eBulletin July 29th July 2022

Budget 2023

ILMI attended the Department of Social Welfare’s pre budget forum this week. Our policy officer James Cawley who had written our submission after much exhaustive consultation and research distilled it down to 6 simple asks. The key here is they are workable, doable and need to happen. When ILMI has a consultation with the collective, everybody is invited to put forward their knowledge in a round table style. The beauty of this is those who participate can pick up whatever expertise they resonate with from the table. Let’s call it a “round table of knowledge” everyone gives, everyone takes and most importantly everyone gets heard. It’s the job of the Policy officer to distil everything down into a document that can be given to the decision makers to action upon.

The pre-budget forum is also a round table and there are some amazing people sitting around it bringing their members views to the fore. A commonality emerged, a systemic barrier that rears its ugly head again and again, poverty. Whether you are from a minority background, representing your child or children, a lone parent, have fallen on hard times or have a support need, poverty is the enemy. Can’t heat your house worried about winter? that’s energy poverty. Worried about food on the table because you can see all the prices rising and spaces on the supermarket shelves that’s down to inflation and circumstances beyond the average households control, war, fertilizer shortage, oil prices and the Covid backlog on providing manufactured goods or raw materials. Can’t get enough supports? A much needed service when you need it?  Lack of resourcing? Lack of energy? Lack of funds? All stem from poverty. No raise in your income whichever source it comes from cannot offset the true cost of disability. Everything costs and it supports a hidden industry, for example why do wheelchairs cost so much here in Ireland and less on the continent? Talking price tags, no value and never affording ourselves the luxury (while in free fall survival mode0 of asking ourselves the question “Where are my Rights in this?” Supports in the shape of Personal Assistance hours that you were assessed for but don’t have enough to lead your best life, is a form of poverty. Assistive technology solutions that are out of date and practically redundant when cutting edge solutions exists today, is a form of poverty. ILMI is a collective of likeminded disabled people who are striving to make this a better fairer world, for everyone. The Movement is what happens when we all work together. Get involved, have your say and most importantly “Nothing About Us, Without Us” means don’t let “them” make decisions that affect us, we are the experts in what we need. Contact us at to make change happen.

#CostOfLivingCrisis #CostOfDisability #Budget2023 #Budget23 #DisablityPoverty #HousingCrisis  #LeaveNoOneBehind #Poverty #MakePovertyHistory #EndPoverty #nothingaboutuswithoutus #PreBudgetForum

Ellen Clifford a Strategies for Change Masterclass

IMAGE: Screenshot of Class

On Thursday of this week we had Ellen Clifford, Disability Activist and author come and talk to us about her recent publication – The War on Disabled People.

Ellen told us that the key message she wanted to get across (in her book) was “that the exclusion of disabled people, and disability discrimination, are absolutely not inevitable. They are linked to the unjust social and economic structures that we live under”.

Ellen believes that disability (through a social model lens) is an issue that can “powerfully expose the true nature of Capitalism”. Moreover, the way that “disabled peoples’ talents and lives are so casually wasted” under capitalist ideologies is an absolute disgrace.

Ellen believes that as long as we “live under a system that puts profit before disabled people, we are going to always have to struggle for the resources that we need to survive”.

“In times of economic prosperity we will get concessions but in times of hardship” the powers that be will always try to make cuts.

Ellen told us that “we (Irish Disabled Activists) cannot become complacent”, we have to remember that as soon as there’s even a sign of an economic recession our benefits and supports will be taken away if allowed.

She rightly warned us that our existence is very fragile in a capitalist system, but “change is possible when we come together in solidarity and include other people (disabled people and non-disabled allies) who also want to fight for social justice and fairness”.
Link for recording of this SFC Lunchtime Masterclass will be available very soon.

SFC – Understanding our Equality Legislation

IMAGE: screenshot of the class participants

In this week’s Strategies for Change Session we had our very own Damien Walshe come and talk to us about our equality legislation. Damien kicked off the session by asking us about equality and what it means to us.

Our equality laws is about the absence of discrimination and not being treated unfavourably. Cases of being treated unfavourably or of discrimination must be able to be proved.

We learned what discrimination is – mistreatment of someone based on their gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, member of the travelling community, race or religion.

We learned that our equality legislation has a number of flaws. Specifically disabled people taking discriminatory cases. These flaws involve the cost, the emotional investment, and the fear of being victimized.

We learned of the level of difficulty in making a successful case because a lot of discrimination is hard to prove in our court system and can be subtle which makes it difficult.

We learned the difference between mistreatment and discrimination. Just because a system treats you badly doesn’t mean that you are being discriminated against because the system is bad to everyone.

Written By Thomas Morgan SFC participant

ILMI VOICE Cork Project

IMAGE: photo shows Nicola Meacle attending the session in the Silversprings hotel and scrutinizing some plans.

One of the pillars of independent living and in my personal opinion, one of the most essential pillars is a fully-accessible transport system. Without a fully-accessible transport system, we are limited in terms of getting to work, education, to participate in our communities like everyone else.

There are 12 new bus routes that will incorporate new bike lanes due to begin construction in 2023 in Cork city, hence, last week, at the VOICE online platform we agreed that those of us who could attend any of the Sustainable Transport Corridors- Public Information events in Cork city would go and speak with the design team to ensure they hear from disabled people. Consulting with the public must be more of a box-ticking exercise. Before construction starts is when we have a chance to have our voices heard.  People can give feedback individually and also as part of a collective. The deadline for making a submission has been extended to October.

In the next VOICE Cork Platform meeting it generated a lot of discussion and the group felt energized and empowered knowing they could have their say about an important development in their city.

For more information on how to get involved in the ILMI VOICE Cork Platform please reach out to

ILMI at the launch of the Dublin Theatre Festival

ILMI staff Peter Kearns & Paula Soraghan were delighted to be invited to the launch of the Dublin Theatre Festival as ILMI is a prominent sponsor and supporter of the Festivals programme celebration of the new play connected to our movement’s history NO MAGIC PILL.

The play, which will be premièred at Galway Black-box Theatre at the end of September, explores the history of the Irish Independent Living movement and one of its leaders Martin Naughton and the play has a cast made up of mostly disabled actors who are ILMI members Ferdia MacAonghusa and Paddy Slattery.

IMAGE : scanned page from the brochure featuring a picture of Martin Naughton

The play is also one of the first Irish Theatre productions to have a dedicated Disability-Dramaturge in the guise of ILMI’s Peter Kearns. Peter has been working with NO MAGIC PILL playwright Christian O’Reilly and director Raymond Keane since the 2017 Mansion House BY US WITH US celebration of Martin Naughton and other fallen comrades.

IMAGE : Photo of Raymond Keane No Magic Pill Director, Dramaturg and Disability Consultant: Peter Kearns  and Mitzi D’Alton No Magic Pill Producer

Tickets and more information on this link 

Concluding Observations on the Ireland’s review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

The UN Human Rights Committee issued its concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Ireland.  The HRC reviewed Ireland’s State report and NGO shadow reports in early July and issued its concluding observations this week.

What is the ICCPR?
The ICCPR is a key international human rights treaty, providing a range of protections for civil and political rights. The ICCPR, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, are considered the International Bill of Human Rights. The ICCPR obligates countries that have ratified the treaty to protect and preserve basic human rights, such as: the right to life and human dignity; equality before the law; freedom of speech, assembly, and association; religious freedom and privacy; freedom from torture, ill-treatment, and arbitrary detention; gender equality; the right to a fair trial, and; minority rights.

What did UN Human Rights Committee say about Ireland’s report under the ICCPR?
A large part of the concluding observations relates to the denial of rights of people experiencing emotional distress (psychosocial disabilities), specifically in relation to coercive measures in psychiatric institutions. The HRC noted concerns about delays to reviewing the Mental Health Act (2001) which denies people their rights to safeguard against coercive treatments and also concerns about the Assisted Decision Making Act concerning legal capacity of disabled people, specifically people who experience emotional distress. The HRC also noted reports of “of ongoing use of, inter alia, seclusion, physical restraint, electroconvulsive therapy, and involuntary administration of medication”.

The HRC calls on full reform of Irish legislation concerning capacity and decision-making “guaranteeing a human rights-based approach that endorses non-discrimination in line with international standards”. The Committee also urges the Irish State party to implement the necessary measures to “ensure that non-consensual use of psychiatric medication, electroconvulsive therapy and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services is prohibited” and to “offer adequate community-based or alternative social care services for persons with psychosocial and mental disabilities to provide less restrictive alternatives”.

The HRC also noted the persistent discrimination suffered by women, persons of African descent, Travellers and Roma community, disabled people, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, especially in the areas of education, health care and employment” and called for increased efforts to ensure that information about complaint procedures and remedies for discrimination in the context of law enforcement activities is accessible to all victims (and specifically names ensuring that the communities affected be fully involved in any process.

The HRC called for measures to guarantee the universality and equal access to abortion services for all women and girls, including disabled people. The HRC also noted concerns by reports of younger disabled people accommodated in nursing homes.

The ICCPR comments on legal capacity of disabled people in legislation including recognising the right to refuse “so-called” treatments echo concerns raised in our submission to the review of the Mental Health Act 2011, the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Bill and also our recent lobbying of legislators about our concerns about the absence of legal recognition of Advanced Care Directives and tests for “functional capacity” as legislation was rushed through the Dáil last month.

ILMI contributed to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) ICCPR shadow report

ILMI submission to the review of the Mental Health Act:   PDF   WORD

ILMI Submission to the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Bill   PDF   WORD

Disabled people and the Equality Infrastructure in Ireland: reviewing the 2021 Data
Recently, two important institutions in relation to equality in Ireland published their 2021 annual reports: the Irish Human Rights Equality Commission (IHREC) and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). These reports give us an insight into discrimination in Ireland and where people have sought to have inequality challenged.

IHREC is our National Human Rights Institute (NHRI) and is an independent public body that accounts to the Oireachtas, with a mandate established under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 (IHREC Act 2014). The IHREC Act includes and further enhances the functions of the former Irish Human Rights Commission and the former Equality Authority. IHREC’s role is to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The WRC is an independent, statutory body which was established on 1st October 2015 under the Workplace Relations Act 2015 (No. 16 of 2015). It plays a vital role in Ireland’s equality and human rights infrastructure as it assumes the role of the Equality Tribunal and Employment Appeals Tribunal, which are key spaces to hear cases under the Equal Status Act (2000-2018) and the Employment Equality Acts (1998-2015). It also assumes the roles and functions previously carried out by the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), Labour Relations Commission (LRC), Rights Commissioners Service (RCS).

IHREC and WRC annual reports: what do they tell us about disabled people challenging discrimination?

IHREC’s annual report (which can be downloaded here) was published last week and its information section makes for interesting reading. Disability discrimination remains highest area of public contact for IHREC representing 46% of contacts related to services and 36% of contacts related to employment. This is a reduction from 2020 where representing 54% of all equality related concerns.

Interesting, of the number of queries under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 (which relate to equality issues in licenced premises), 3 of the 6 (50%) related to disability.

Under Section 40 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, IHREC can, in certain circumstances, give legal assistance to a person who wishes to bring a matter relating to equality or human rights before the Workplace Relations Commission (the ‘WRC’) or the courts. The assistance provided can be legal advice only or legal advice and representation.

During 2021, along with casework from 2020, IHREC received 72 new individual applications  for legal assistance were received, 29 applications were approved, of which 22 approvals were for legal advice only and 7 for advice and representation, 32 applications were refused and 2 were withdrawn, with 9 awaiting decision at year end. The IHREC report shows some specific casework in relation to disabled people successfully taking cases with the support of IHREC under Equality Legislation.

The 2020 WRC Annual report showed a huge increase in referrals under the Equal Status Act  up from 305 in 2020 to 572 in 2021 referrals were made under the Acts, relating to 810 specific grounds. The reason for the larger number of grounds is that when people are making a complaint under the Equal Status they can report that they were discriminated under more than one ground (such as disability and gender, for example).

In 2021 there was 362 cases taken under the disability ground, an increase of 298% from 91 cases in 2020 (and 73 in 2019). The WRC report showed that in 2021, it received 323 cases under the disability ground under the Employment Equality Acts, an increase from 290 in 2020 (an 11% increase).

Disabled People and the Equality Infrastructure

The increase in the numbers of disabled people taking cases in 2021 is to be welcomed in order to challenge systemic discrimination. ILMI made a detailed submission on the Equality Legislation last year, and are keen to create spaces on building our collective understanding on how to use legislation to challenge discrimination.

If you are interested in taking part in a series of workshops on the Equality Infrastructures later in the Autumn, email

ILMI Submission to the review of the Equality Act   PDF   WORD

ILMI published a Guide to Disability and Law  which outlines steps disabled people need to take to challenge inequality and discrimination.

IHREC press release on their 2021 Annual Report

WRC press release on their 2021 Annual Report

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