I am deeply appreciative of the invitation to join the board of ILMI where I hope my experience will add to the commitment and talents of the existing members in furthering the vision and values of an organisation pivotal in shaping the new inclusive future for persons with disabilities to be won through the interpretations and application of the articles of the UNCRPD.
I am now enjoying an active life following my retirement from my post as Chief Executive Officer of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) in mid-2014. This retirement came after 28 years at the helm of Ireland’s premier agency working with blind and low vision people. Prior to joining NCBI, I had headed up the Union of Voluntary Organisations for the Handicapped (operating under a more appropriate title today of “the Disability Federation of Ireland”). I came to that role in 1980 from the National League of the Blind of Ireland (NLBI). In the NLBI I held the post as general secretary of this specialist trade union responsible for the employment conditions of people working in the sheltered workshops for the blind and for persons working in the public service in the designated occupation of “blind telephonist”. I enjoyed an activist learning relationship with trade union leaders of individual unions and of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
I have been fortunate to have contributed to policy development and organised lobbying during the near-50 years of continuous employment from the time I left the special residential school for the blind in Dublin which I had attended after a childhood accident left me blind
I have been a board member of the National Rehabilitation Board, the Combat Poverty Agency, and served two four-year terms on the National Disability Authority (NDA). I was a founder member of the Not for Profit Business Association and chairman for some years prior to my retirement. I hold an MSC-Econ in health care management and hold an MBA from the Open University.
I have published two volumes of poetry: “My Sense of Blind” and “Past Tense” These slim volumes are available in paper and Kindle versions from Amazon. I also publish my poems and write literary critiques on www.wordgathering.com (an online journal publishing writers with disabilities and advancing our inclusion into mainstream publishing.
Selina Bonnie, MA (ILMI Vice Chairperson)
Selina Bonnie is an Indian / Irish disabled woman who holds a Master’s Degree in Disability Studies from the University of Leeds. She has been an activist, lecturer and trainer in the international disabled people’s movement for the past 25 years. Her particular research interests centre on sexuality, sexual expression and reproductive rights for disabled people. She has been published on related topics in various fora including a chapter titled ‘Towards Sexual Citizenship: Dispelling the Myth of Disabled People’s Asexuality’, in the book Sexualities and Irish Society: A Reader. Selina is also a busy wife and mother who works full time for South Dublin County Council as their Disability Liaison, Access and Equality Officer.
Sarah Fitzgerald (ILMI Secretary)
My name is Sarah Fitzgerald from Offaly and I first became a Leader with Offaly CIL in 2003. I have fourteen years’ experience working in the disability sector, namely in Trinity College and Offaly CIL. As a lover of stories it fascinates me to hear personal accounts of the growth of the Independent Living Movement in Ireland.
I am actively involved in the Offaly Leader Forum, where I served as secretary for four years. At the moment I am trying to forge a career in writing, and when possible I try to fuse my passion for writing and equality together. The blog is called wobblyyummymummy.com and is often written on a reactionary basis depending on what is happening in the media with disability at any given time.
Gordon Ryan (ILMI Treasurer)
My name is Gordon Ryan I am 43 years old and I have cerebral palsy. I currently live in my own house with my personal assistants. I am a qualified accounting technician.
I have had personal assistants for over twenty years, and for the majority of that time my service provider was the Irish Wheelchair Association and while their service was very good I felt I was always treated as a service user and was always the last to find out if there were any changes to be made to my service. I was a member of a consultation group that was set up by service users and IWA management to discuss policy issues that may affect service users.
During that time the Centre for Independent Living which I am a director of, commissioned a piece of research on the models of direct payments around Europe and they might work in Ireland. I was one of the three people who did the research.
Arising from this research while not directly related to it, myself and two others set up a company called Aiseanna Tacaiochta to act as a link between us as individuals and the HSE and they cannot fund individuals at present, we then had to set up our individual companies to receive my funds. So the funds goes from the HSE to Aiseanna Tacaiochta and then to my company which is an unnecessary triangle it would make more sense for the HSE to fund me directly. This form of personalised budgets has increased my confidence greatly as I now have full control of my personal assistants, especially when it comes to hiring. As I am an accounting technician I have set up my own accounts /payroll service to assist others with these tasks.
I was also a member of the group who slept outside government buildings in 2012 when the HSE tried to take €10 Million out of the personal assistant budget.
I am also a member of the European Network on Independent Living, and I have travelled to the Strasbourg freedom drive every second year since its inception in 2003, while there we meet MEP’s at the European parliament and the European Disability Inter Group to try to get the EU to influence member states to improve the rights of people with disabilities in Europe.
I was also chairman of Greater Dublin Independent Living (GDIL) for many years.
Dr John Roche
My name is Dr John Roche and I am a chartered engineer working at PUNCH Consulting Engineers in Dun Laoghaire. I have been a volunteer on many committees and boards of management stretching back to 1988 when I was treasurer of Cambridge Disabled Access and Transport Group while studying for my PhD in Cambridge University.
I have been involved in the Independent Living Movement since joining the Center for Independent Living’s pilot personal assistance programme (INCARE) in 1994. I have been a long term campaigner for independent living supports to empower people with disabilities to lead independent lives of their own choosing. I have served on the boards of Independent Living Community Services (1996-to-1998) and Greater Dublin Independent Living (2007-to-date) and I have been a board member of CIL for the last 12 months.
I am a firm believer that education opens doors to employment opportunities (and more!) and that personal assistance and other independent living supports are the keys to those doors for people with disabilities. As the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities approaches ratification by the State I am excited to promote the growth of CIL into the Independent Living Rights Movement (ILRM) to vindicate those rights and work towards the establishment of personal assistance and other IL support services as a human right for all people with disabilities.
Audrey Brodigan has been involved in the Irish independent Living Movement since before the CIL company was set up in 1992. Down through the years Audrey was a key figure in all CIL’s action research projects including the first Personal Assistant Services pilot and Ireland’s first accessible transport service Vantastic. Not only was Audrey a project manager but she was instrumental to the smooth operational running of CIL. In the course of her career Audrey worked extremely closely with Martin Naughton a tireless disability activist all his life. The work was diverse and because she has a skill set to match Audrey could be an auditor, advocate, event planner or a fundraiser and be successful to an extremely high level. It was a natural progression for Audrey to go on and work for Aiseanna Tacaiochta looking after personnel, day to day running of the organisation and one on one personal implementation of training plans. Audrey still believes in the Independent Living Philosophy as being the way forward for all people with disabilities to create a fair and just society.
Jacqui Browne is a member of the Disability Advisory Committee of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. IHREC is the Independent Monitoring Mechanism for the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in Ireland. Jacqui has over 30 years of experience as a disability equality activist and consultant. With a BA Degree in Economics & Politics from UCD and a Masters’ degree in Education from Trinity College Dublin she has many years of experience working at local, national, European and International levels. She is a former member of Commission on Status of People with Disabilities whose report A Strategy for Equality was a blueprint for disability rights in Ireland.
Jacqui Chairs the recently established Coalition of Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) whose core objective is to work together to develop a Shadow Report on the State’s first report to the UN on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Jacqui is also Chairperson of DESSA – the national Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency, a board member of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Irish Thalidomide Association. Jacqui is also actively involved as a patient advocate in IPPOSI – the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry and is a EUPATI Fellow – European Patient Advocacy Training Initiative.
My name is Brian Dalton. I live in Dublin, am married with 2 children and I work in Aerlingus. From a young age, my parents encouraged and nurtured my independence by allowing me to make my own decisions. I’m totally blind, and a wheelchair user. At the age of 6, I decided I didn’t want artificial eyes, as they would not enable me to see, and I decided that I wanted to use a wheelchair at the age of 9, as it would give me a greater level of independence.
I went through primary, secondary and third level education, obtaining a master’s degree in Equality studies in the 1990’s.
My desire to become an activist, increased as I got older. I fought for a PA service to enable me to become more independent, and recently participated in the campaign and motion around the right to a Personal Assistant, as an ILMI member, by spreading the word on social media, attending the debate in the Dail and appearing on Radio to talk about and spread awareness about the campaign.
It’s my desire, that everyone has the right to make their own choices in life and live independently, if that’s their wish
Ann Maire Flanagan
I’ve been a member of ILMI for over 20 years.
I have vast personal, professional and governance experience:
1992 – 2005 Co-founder the Disabled People of Clare; development of PA service, capacity building, public advocacy, accessible transport, inclusive arts etc
1997- 2005 Vice-chair of DFI, a voice of DPO’s, advocating for independent living services.
2002 – 2007 Chair of the Clare Women’s Network securing funding for a permanent coordinator
1997/8 Director of the Forum of People with Disabilities
2000’s Director and Chair of Clare Local Employment Service with state and C&V.
I work supporting mental health recovery. I worked as a Direct Payments advisor in the UK. This year I was privileged to be ILMI nominee for the Seanad. I have a Postgrad in Organisational Management, Masters in Partnership Studies (Social Inclusions) and currently undertaking a LLM in International Disability Law and Policy, NUIG. I offer a rural perspective for regional balance. I am a mother (9 year old). I ask you respectfully for your number 1. Thank you so much.
Seònaid Ó Murchadha
I am a triple amputee, full-time wheelchair and prosthetic user. From founding Amputee Disability Federation Ireland in 2004 to working with many organisations (ILO, EU and OECD) to promote the greater inclusion of disabled people in the workplace, I’ve always been passionate about advocacy and our rights.
I have worked in HR in the Rehab Group; and with the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability on their workplace placement programme, where I supported employers to recruit disabled graduates and advised disabled students on securing work. I managed the successful pilot initiative, the Employer Disability Information service advising employers on the recruitment, management and retention of disabled people. Recently, I was working with Dublin City University’s Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion helping organisations with diversity and inclusion.
I have regularly featured in national media highlighting the abilities of disabled people; I presented the RTE 1 TV programme Three60 and presented Outside the Box on RTE radio 1.
I am proud to represent ILMI on the Comprehensive Employment Strategy (for the Employment of Persons with Disabilities) Implementation Group and would greatly appreciate your vote to continue to advocate for our rights to access work and training.