ILMI Mailshot July 23rd, 2021

ILMI Mailshot July 23rd, 2021

Inside This Issue:

Welcome to our weekly mailshot, which includes:

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

Play It Forward

IMAGE: poster with the words Play it Forward

The Play It Forward Fellowships are aimed at nurturing and amplifying the talents of writers whose voices and stories have traditionally been underrepresented in Irish literature and publishing. A joint initiative between Skein Press and The Stinging Fly, spearheaded by poet and editor Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, the programme seeks to advance new perspectives in contemporary cultural discourse, and broaden conversations around diversity, inclusion, access and opportunity across the literary landscape.

This pioneering 18-month programme is designed to create pathways for writers to develop, showcase and publish their work. Fellows will receive structured support including mentoring, editorial feedback, career consulting, participation in workshops, training, festivals and literary events, as well as opportunities to meet and build relationships with editors, agents, publishers and writers in order to significantly progress their writing practice.

The inaugural Play It Forward Fellowships have been awarded to Gonchigkhand Byambaa, Sara Chudzik, Neo Gilson, Majed Mujed and Sarah Fitzgerald. The 2021/22 fellows were selected from a strong field of applicants by a panel of writers and editors including Thomas Morris, Melatu Uche Okorie, and Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe.

Gonchigkhand Byambaa is a social worker and writer from Mongolia. She is one of the founders of Migrant Women Na hÉireann, which seeks to raise awareness and provide support to victims of domestic and gender-based violence. She writes about Mongolian culture in an attempt to honour her parents’ legacy and illustrate the beauty and hardship that comes with a traditional nomadic lifestyle.

Sara Chudzik was born in Poland and moved to Limerick when she was 12 years old. She is an NUIG graduate and currently works and lives in Dublin. In her writing, she explores themes of difference, female sexuality and being a migrant. Language — what it means to learn it, as well as know and understand it — is a thematic and stylistic focus of her work.

Neo Florence Gilson is from Kimberley, South Africa, and currently lives in Ireland. A poet, writer, singer, storyteller, and motivational speaker, she has a passion for influencing youth positively through social upliftment projects. Love, unity, respect, empathy, justice and affirmation are the themes she is most drawn to in her writing.

Majed Mujed is an Iraqi poet, born in 1971. Writing in Arabic, his poetry focuses on love as well as being a stranger in a strange land. One of the founders of the Iraqi House of Poetry, he has worked in the Iraqi cultural press for twenty years. He is the recipient of awards from the Al Mada Cultural Foundation, Iraqi House of Wisdom and Iraqi Intellectuals Conference.

Play It Forward is grateful for the support of the Independent Living Movement Ireland through the Declan O’Keefe bursary award, which honours the legacy of  founding member Declan O’Keefe. Declan was a librarian and keen patron of the arts. This bursary award sponsors a place on the Play It Forward Fellowships programme to support an emerging disabled writer who wishes to use creative writing to shine a lens on disability and independent living, challenge inequality and promote inclusion. The recipient of the inaugural Declan O’Keefe Bursary Award 2021/22 is Sarah Fitzgerald.

Sarah Fitzgerald is from Offaly. Her blog is a marriage of two of her greatest passions: writing and disability activism. Working primarily in fiction, she feels a responsibility to write about disabled characters in a way that challenges the paternalistic view of disability. She is currently compiling a book titled Conversations about Activism and Change, a collection of stories about the history of the Independent Living Movement gathered from ten disabled activists.

The Fellowships are funded through the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, and enhanced by the expertise of strategic partner organisations including AosdánaPoetry Ireland, the Irish Writers Centre and Words Ireland.

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ILMI Call for Investment in Disabled People and Not in the Disability Industry

IMAGE: poster with the words ‘ILMI Call for Investment in Disabled People and Not in the Disability Industry.

Concern that the Disability Capacity Review has no mechanism to talk directly to disabled people about where resources need to be invested

Today (Friday 16th July) ILMI responded to the Department of Health “Disability Capacity Review to 2032: A Review of Disability Social Care Demand and Capacity Requirements up to 2032”.

“It is remarkable that an analysis of proposed State investment in our lives for the next ten years at no point engaged with disabled people about what we want or need. It is welcomed that the Department finally recognises the huge un-met need in terms of Personal Assistance Services, which is something that disabled people want. But the proposed investment for day services and residential settings are contrary to disabled people being included in all aspects of social, educational, cultural and economic life as per our obligations under the UNCRPD. The Capacity Review is based on continuing to invest in the “Disability Industry” which will perpetuate a situation where many disabled people are segregated from the society” said Des Kenny, ILMI chairperson.

ILMI is a cross-impairment Disabled Persons Organisation. Our vision is an Ireland where disabled persons have freedom, choice and control over all aspects of their lives and can fully participate in an inclusive society as equals. The provision of many disability services are diametrically opposed to inclusion.

“We know that many segregated services (residential centres, day centres) which were established in the past were done so by non-disabled people to keep disabled “safe”, to “look after” disabled people. What they have done in effect is keep disabled people out of society. They have ostracised us and they have acted in a way that has denied mainstream services and indeed Irish society from changing to become inclusive” said Selina Bonnie, ILMI Vice Chair.

“For example, disabled people who should be accessing accredited learning provided by their local Education and Training Board are often directed to access learning solely with other disabled people through “special” day centres. Not only does this infringe on disabled people’s rights to access the education of their choosing it also prevents spaces for disabled and non-disabled people to share as equals and ultimately build an inclusive society” she said.

“The Disability Capacity Review shows us that it costs €25,000 per year per person to fund day services. Why not give that money directly to disabled people through a personalised budget and allow us to decide what to do, and when to do it? The “Disability Industry” and the services they provide are based on the premise that non-disabled people know best and need to make decisions on what disabled people want are not and can never be inclusive” said Des Kenny. 

“It is not just that “activities” that take place in day services should be controlled by disabled people, disabled people need fundamentally in control of the “disability industry” so we can decide whether it is appropriate to have spaces that segregate us and separate us from our non-disabled peers; or whether those resources that finance separate services would be better used in providing disabled people with the resources we need to participate in society as equals” added Mr Kenny.

“Ireland is bound under the UNCRPD to support the inclusion of disabled people in all aspects of life. Yet the Disability Capacity Review states that “Participation in day services is virtually lifelong”. How is that acceptable that disabled people are to be segregated into these services for their entire adult life? How is that compliant under UNCRPD?” said Mr Kenny.

“The commitment of Ministers Donnelly, O’Gorman and Rabbitte to ensuring there is strategic long-term investment is welcome. But they must ensure under article 4.3 of the UNCRPD and General Comment 7 to speak directly to Disabled People through their representative DPOs to ensure to invest in what disabled people want and need to participate in society as equals. The “Disability Industry” cannot be part of these discussions as they have vested interest in ensuring investment continues to support the Status Quo of exclusion and segregation,” said Selina Bonnie.


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ONSIDE – How to Get Involved

IMAGE: poster with the words ONSIDE “As a disabled woman living alone, ONSIDE has provided me with a way to connect with the world around me. I use my tablet to attend courses and groups in my area and to connect with friends on social media” – Participant Monaghan. What could ONSIDE do for you?

Our ONSIDE project continues to grow from strength to strength, with participants from the initial rounds of social inclusion workshops and training beginning to see real benefits in their daily lives. If you would like to learn more about what the ONSIDE project could do for you and how you can get involved please do let us know. We have Community Navigators in Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Cavan that would be delighted to work with you. Just contact any of the ILMI staff team or email

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IMAGE shows a screenshot from the latest Louth Social Inclusion Workshop

ONSIDE Louth participants have now completed their third social inclusion workshop. Our ONSIDE team facilitated a joint platform for the ONSIDE border counties, with guest speaker Martina Kilgallon from the National Advocacy Services (NAS). We had a very engaging and interactive session.
Following the workshop our zoom poll results showed that:

  • 60% of participants would like to explore a personal advocacy issue with their local advocate;
  • 60% of participants would like to get involved in promoting ‘speaking up’ and advocacy with other disabled people; and
  • 50% of participants are interested in joining their local Disabled Person’s Organisation in the future.

If you live in Louth and would like to take part in our ONSIDE project please get in touch with your Community Navigator Clive Lowry at

This hot and sticky week in July fired-on ILMI to get disabled activists voice to shine through at the ‘Civil Society Consultation’ zoom meeting held by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. IHREC, Ireland’s national human rights and equality institution, invited ILMI and other public citizen enablers to feed into their next Strategy Statement 2022-24.

All public bodies in Ireland have responsibility to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their employees, customers, service users and everyone affected by their policies and plans. This is a legal obligation, called the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty, and this means that IHREC are keen to listen to ILMI as a national cross-impairment social model Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO). Peter Kearns represented ILMI at the half-day consultation and promoted the strong collective argument to IHREC that “DPOs should continue to be the first point of contact and dialogue for IHREC with disabled people throughout the Republic. There is always room for IHREC to enhance and effectively resource its ‘Dialogue’ led engagement with DPOs such as ILMI. Especially when disabled activists are supportive of IHREC wanting to independently identify and address disabling state and private-sector multi-billion medical model gaffs and gaps, while seeking to remove ongoing social policy engagement structural barriers in the Republic”. ILMI is always ready to engage with IHREC’s goal and purpose 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.

Written Submissions
Although, ILMI and other DPOs are always attending IHREC consultation meetings, ILMI members should know that our strong collective voice is not the only way to contribute to the development of the next Civil Society Strategy Statement development. ILMI are also inviting disabled people to provide your views by writing to IHREC, please see IHREC’s website: – for more details about making a written submission. The closing date for submissions towards the next Irish Republic’s Human-Rights 2022-24 Strategy Statement is 16 August 2021.

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Button by Neatebox

IMAGE shows the word Button

South Dublin County Council (SDCC) has installed the ‘Button by Neatebox’ touchless pedestrian crossing control system in two locations within Dublin. They can be found at Tallaght Hospital and Ninth Lock Road Clondalkin near the post office.

With Button you can use your mobile phone to virtually ‘press’ the pedestrian crossing button. It can be used to operate pedestrian crossings safely and confidently. This free App is available on both IOS or Android and allows you to focus on your surroundings without having to stretch or search for the button.
If you would like to use the Button system you can read more about it or download the Button app from the link below: 


The National Transport Authority (NTA) has created a survey on taxis and hackneys.
As we all know Transport is one of the pieces of the “independent living jigsaw” that lots of disabled people throughout Ireland have challenges with. Furthermore, getting an accessible taxi on demand can be a nightmare. Please participate in the survey and have your voice heard.

The survey can be completed in the following ways:

  • Online, via the following link which is compatible with screen-readers:
  • By post: if you require a hard-copy version of the survey, please contact Behaviour & Attitudes at You will also receive a stamped addressed envelope to facilitate the return of your completed survey.
  • By telephone: should you prefer to complete the survey in this manner, please contact Behaviour & Attitudes at  or on 01 2057561.They will arrange for an agent to call you to go through the questions with you.
  • Should you wish, you may also ask someone to complete the survey on your behalf.

If you want to report a taxi for any reason, please visit the transport for Ireland website. There is also a Transport for Ireland (TFI) “Driver Check App” it allows users to check that the vehicle they are about to hire has been registered correctly and that the driver has the appropriate license to operate the vehicle. If the information appears incorrect, it is possible to submit a report. All of Ireland’s taxis, hackneys, limousines and all SPSV (Small Public Service Vehicles) drivers are covered by this app. This includes rural locations as well as cities such as Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. Visit the Driver check app here.

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Cork Platform

IMAGE shows a screen shot from the presentation provided by James O’Donovan from Cork Environmental Forum.

The Cork Platform continue to meet every two weeks. This week’s meeting involved a presentation from James O’Donovan from the Cork Environmental Forum. James gave a brief outline of why Ireland declared a Climate and Biodiversity crisis in 2019. He also explained further about the work that the Cork Environmental Forum does and provided the group with useful tips on producing less waste at home to save on energy bills.
If you would like to join the Cork Platform and take part in any of their Zoom sessions then do get in touch at

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The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) are inviting Personal Assistance Service (PAS) users to take part in a study that wants to understand the experiences of people who use PAS. The study is funded by the National Disability Authority.

The aim of this research project is to better understand the experience of personal assistance service users in Ireland. The NDA defines a personal assistance service user as someone ‘employed by the person with a disability to enable them to live an independent life. The personal assistant provides assistance, at the discretion and direction of the person with the disability, thus promoting choice and control for the person with the disability to live independently’ (Buchanan, 2014). The research considers areas such as:

  • How do the experiences of personal assistant service users differ?
  • What are the personal goals that persons with disabilities aim for in using their personal assistant services?
  • How do personal assistance service users fare in terms of their quality of life?
  • How do personal assistance service users describe their relationships with their personal assistants?
  • What are the challenges of personal assistance service users and what do they recommend for the development of personal assistant services in Ireland?

The survey, which takes about 15 minutes is anonymous and will not be linked to you or your services. By completing this survey, you are eligible to enter a prize draw to win one of 10 One4All vouchers worth €50 each. If you choose to enter this prize draw, we will ask you to share your personal information in a separate form. This information will not be linked to your survey responses.More information about this study is available here.
More information about how your data is protected at the Economic and Social Research Institute is available here.
Please send any questions you have about this study to Selina McCoy at

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