Independent Living Movement Ireland

Disabled children and young disabled adults are not props or pawns to be used in any fundraising or political campaigns

Reducing the fullness of our human experience to “issues” for others to exploit for their own ends must stop immediately

Today (Thursday, 24 February) ILMI strongly calls for the practice of using disabled children and young disabled people as props in political and fundraising campaigns to end.

“As disabled adults who were once disabled children we can confidently say that it is never okay for us to be reduced to being spoken about to highlight campaigns or advance political ends, whether for parents or organisations. By doing so, we as disabled people are once again denied our voice, our agency and our humanity. We cannot allow this situation to continue. It has to stop. If you want to hear disabled children’s or young disabled adults’ voices, talk to them. There are Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) who are organised and led by disabled people, and if you want to know about disabled people’s voices, come and talk to us” said Des Kenny, ILMI chairperson.

“A central tenet of the Disability Rights Movement in Ireland and globally is the trend towards disabled people organising collectively so that discussions around disability are led by disabled people. Where non-disabled people, including parents of disabled children or young disabled adults, claim to speak on behalf of disabled people, they fail to recognise that this can and does undermine the rights to self-determination and self-organisation of disabled people” said Selina Bonnie, ILMI vice chairperson.

“If people are genuinely passionate about building an inclusive Ireland based on principles of rights and equality then we need to create ways for the voices of young disabled people to be resourced and heard, including the voices of disabled people with complex needs and supports. Parents, Carers and service providers can speak for themselves, they never have a mandate to speak for us. And they have no right to use us as passive “props” or “pawns” for political or fundraising, reducing us to less than human. We cannot be spoken about, or have people claim to speak on our behalf or have our lives talked about by anyone any longer. We must have our voices heard. Nothing about us without us has to mean something in 21st Century Ireland” added Jacqui Browne, ILMI Secretary.

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