ILMI eBulletin March 26th

Welcome to our March 26th E-Bulletin

Press Release from the Independent Living Movement Ireland 26th March 2021

“Full independent and transparent investigation into practices of Departments of Health and Education needed to restore disabled people’s trust in State”

Today (Friday 26th March) Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI) called for a full independent and transparent investigation into the practices of the Departments of Health and Education and HSE as revealed in the RTE Prime Time Investigates Report.

“The revelations from the RTE Prime Time programme will have had huge impact not only on autistic children and their families, but to all disabled people. In the year that the State makes its first report to the UN Convention of the Rights of Disabled People (UNCRPD), it is hugely concerning that Government Departments would invest resources to potentially use against people who are forced to take legal action of the State to access their rights to appropriate supports and services. What sort of message does this send out to disabled people who must campaign continually for the supports to live our lives as equals in society only to find out that time and resources are being spent to undermine our rights?” said Des Kenny, ILMI Chairperson.

“Under the UNCRPD, Ireland as a signatory is bound to ‘undertake to ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms’ for all disabled people ‘without discrimination’. It is deeply concerning that intimate details of people’s lives, details about their impairments and their family lives are being shared and potentially used to undermine disabled people’s access to justice and appropriate supports” added Mr Kenny.  Complete ILMI Press Release can be read here

CEOL21

#Ceol21 will be coming live to homes across Ireland in just four days! We have been overwhelmed by the response for tickets since their launch last week. If you haven’t already secured your free ticket then please do so ASAP. We are down to the last batch and expect to be fully sold out by the weekend. You can register your interest through info@ilmi.ie. Together let’s make March 30th a night in to remember! #equality #humanrights for line up details  Face Book Link is here

Strategies for Change

IMAGE shows screenshot of SFC group

In this week’s SFC session we explored intersectionality in its intrinsic link to disability. Intersectionality gives impetus to the reality that all of us have multiple identities and these intersect to make us who we are. It also gives us a way to talk about the oppressions and the privileges that overlap and reinforce our combined selves.

“We come from all sections of Society – all age ranges, all ethnic groups (including Travellers, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, atheist, etc.), all genders, all sexual orientations and are married or single or just people demented with children” – see Crips are just not Crips written by our very own Peter Kearns – https://ilmi.ie/crips-are-not-just-crips/.

So, I am much more then Fiona who has cerebral palsy. I am a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, and so much more.

My intersectional identities (a Disabled Woman, Wife, and Mother) and the inequalities that I experience as a disabled woman, wife, and mother enables me to make sense of my lived experience of ableism.

IMAGE shows Deep purple and blue gradient background with the following words: ABLEISM a·ble·ism \ ˈābə-ˌli-zəm \ noun A system that places value on people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normality, intelligence, excellence, desirability, and productivity. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in anti-Blackness, eugenics, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. This form of systemic oppression leads to people and society determining who is valuable and worthy based on a person’s language, appearance, religion and/or their ability to satisfactorily [re]produce, excel and “behave.” You do not have to be disabled to experience ableism. a 2021 updated working definition by Talila “TL” Lewis

We (disabled people) are the largest marginalised group in the world, we are stigmatised and experience oppression on so many levels. Disabled people have poorer educational outcomes; are less likely to go to college, are 4 times less likely to have a meaningful job and are at risk of deprivation and poverty, I could go on and on… see – https://ilmi.ie/key-statistics/ for more statistical details.

Oppression has many layers, its Ideological, Institutional, Interpersonal and Internalising.

Ideological oppression is the idea that one group of people is better than another group of people. The dominant group associates positive qualities with itself and negative qualities with the marginalised or “other” e.g., rich people are better than poor people – classism, black people are dangerous, are less intelligent and mentally unstable – racism, disabled people are sick, can’t contribute to the economy, need to be fixed or cured – ableism.

Institutional oppression is the systems and institutions that control and disempower, it determines access, who is able and who is not.

Interpersonal oppression is the way people play out discrimination on each other, it promotes multiple discrimination and such discrimination can, and often does create cumulative disadvantage for many that are labelled disabled.

Last but not least is Internalised oppression, this is the end goal, those that belong to the marginalised group internalise the narratives of the dominate group and play out the roles that they are assigned. It is very important here to note that oppressed groups and individuals can, and do, oppress each another.

It is also very important for me to say here that I am privileged and many of us (disabled people) need to acknowledge this much more. I have some status, some power and it’s my job, our job to include all of us – people that are not doing this course, those that are living institutional lives, those that have severe impairments, those with autism and those with intellectual impairments.

These people are just as important as we are, they are part of “us” and we need to build a strong belonging”.

So what does this mean for us as a learning group? We (all disabled people) need to fit into and belong to all social movements that effect our lives, be it, the human rights movement, the LGBT movement, the black lives matter movement, the women’s movement, the travellers movement and the disabled people’s movement. Combined we are stronger, and we can build strong narratives that effect meaningful change.

We need to be at all of the tables, we cannot talk about poverty without talking about disability, we cannot talk about educating everyone without talking about disability, we cannot talk about employment without talking about disability and we certainly can’t talk about genuine inclusion without talking to disabled people first. “Nothing About Us Without Us”. For more info contact fionaweldon@ilmi.ie

Gaining employment in the face of adversity

Image shows photo of Sean O’Kelly

According to the latest census in Ireland, 31% of people with disabilities are in employment in comparison to 71% without a disability.

MY STORY
I left school in 2011. Finding an accessible PLC college in my local area was not an easy task to start with. In my area, there are 5 PLC colleges, I rang each of them to ask if their place was accessible – 3 out of the 5 were not accessible.

During my second college course in 2013, I started on my employment-searching expedition. Looking back, I was naïve but the eagerness in me outweighed! During my second course I linked in with an organisation called Employability. While being part of Employability, I was applying for jobs with the help of my job coach. In a lot of my job applications, I wasn’t getting a response. Looking back, I now know that not all applications are replied to.

Over a 7 year period, I did 6 PLC courses while on the job hunt. The reason I did so many was because I wanted to keep busy (day to day) and gain as much work experience as possible. I quickly learned that my job applications would have to be all based around experience that I have had. Many of the job advertisements that I was looking at online required diplomas and degrees which I felt I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the work involved.

As time went by, it became more and more apparent that networking for me was key to having any hope in gaining employment. While I did have opportunities for interviews (each with great experience), my applications were rejected countless times.

A major turning point in my journey to finding employment was taking part in a jobs club with the local employment service near me while on an internship in Southside Partnership. During the short course, it opened my eyes to a lot of areas regarding employment; CV layout, interview preparations and how I would come across in interviews. During the start of my job searching journey, I had disclosed my disability during the application process. After a while I decided to change how I applied for jobs and only disclosed my disability when (and if) I was asked for interview. I saw a big change in positive response once I made that change.

While doing my internship in Southside Partnership, I joined the Irish Wheelchair Associations Ability Programme which is the equivalent of Employability. With my new mind frame in job search and interview preparation, I felt like I was starting off on a clean ‘sheet’. With my job coach, I applied for jobs and found this time round I was more successful in getting interviews. By Christmas in 2019, I was very optimistic that I was going to get employment because I had been successful in interviews.
In early 2020, my mum was talking to a friend of hers who is a consultant in a hospital about my employment endeavours. He suggested that I send on my CV which I did. Within a couple of days I got a phone call from HR in the hospital inviting me for interview.

In preparing for interview, I knew I didn’t want to let my contact down, so I prepared a lot (in as much as I could without a specific position to work off). On interview day, I was quietly confident that I would be successful judging by the amount of preparing I did.

The following week, I heard back from HR. To my delight I was successful in the interview. I was told that I would be taken on a part time basis for 3 months as a fill-in during the summer. I was really happy with anything that was offered. I had heard nothing back from my previous successful interviews so I was really holding out on this one.

My next (and final) hurdle I had to overcome was COVID-19. Having been successful in interview and got a verbal offering, COVID-19 greeted us in March 2020. As my interview and the success wasn’t linked to a particular role, I was very eager to keep in contact in fear my application would be moved down in workload.

In September 2020, I was asked for interview by the same organisation for a specific role. I knew this interview would be a follow on from my previous interview but with more specifics to the role, however, I still prepared for it as if it was a brand new application.

To my delight, I was successful in the second interview. When I got the all-important phone call, to say I was elated is an understatement.

For a long time during my employment journey, I knew that the icing on the cake to gaining further independence was to get on the employment ladder so I have achieved that, and you can too!

My message to all out there currently on the employment journey, don’t give up. My advice is you will have knock backs, but just pick yourself back up and treat every interview done as a learning experience for the next. You too, will get that perfect job!

Written by ILMI Member Sean O’Kelly

Where’s the suicide supports to be NOT DEAD YET?

IMAGE Shows: USA Connecticut disabled activist cartoon against worldwide suicide & Dying-with-Dignity lies and misconceptions

Activist and academic Peter Kearns has been engaging with ILMI’s spring E-Bulletin to post a brief series of articles on the cultural backdrop to why many Irish disabled activists are opposing Gino Kelly’s Dying-with-Dignity (DwD) Dáil 2021 Bill. This week’s blog is Peter’s concluding Bi-Weekly article and it is mainly concerned with exploring why Irish disabled activists should become more vocal in identifying the dangers associated with the call for assisted suicide to be legalised. Peter will introduce our readers to positive international arguments and actions by disabled activists who have turned the ‘dying’ discourse on its suicidal head. Activists worldwide are looking for more effective suicide supports for disabled adults and young people experiencing feelings of decreased quality of life or loss of autonomy or dignity as dubious reasoning for non-disabled proponents for rushing-in laws of assisted suicide.

International activists are also having face-2-face discussions with their governments about how the assisted suicide one-sided argument can prove a danger for those with impairment labels associated with terminal illness who are not being enabled to effectively engage with their national suicide prevention supports.

Many Irish disabled activists believe that legalising assisted suicide will inevitably lead to increasingly adverse judgements about the quality of life of disabled people. Learning from the lived experiences of activists in Oregon USA, Netherlands and UK, ILMI Social Inclusion Coordinator Peter Kearns suggests that “if we give in to the demand to protecting medical assistance in a suicide of a person with an impairment label, we are reinforcing attitudes that say that the lives of disabled people are not worth living – that they are a particular burden to themselves, their relatives and friends, the Taxpayer and the state”.  International disabled activists are also arguing that these negative attitudes are faced by disabled people all the time across the globe where Dying-with-Dignity laws are popping-up worldwide over the past two decades. The rest of the article can be read here as well as the two previous in this series

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