Independent Living Movement Ireland

Carmichael House, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7
Tel: +353 (0)1 873 04 55 | Email:

Our Board

Des Kenny (ILMI Chairperson)

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 (an online journal publishing writers with disabilities and advancing our inclusion into mainstream publishing.

Dermot Hayes (ILMI Vice Chairperson)

I was born in the Burren and now living in Ennis. Co. Clare. Family of 13 children. I was regarded as the invalid of the family and the middle child.

In my 63 years I have been busy been and active in my local community from my Youth Club days. In my working life I was very involved in the Union and elected several times in various positions locally and nationally.

Inspired by the one and only Martin Naughton, in 1992 I along with 5 others set up the Disabled People of Clare as CIL.. In rural Ireland at the time it was a radical thing to do. Especially as we outlawed charity the model. We developed the organisation by clever use of media locally and the name DPOC was well know by the time I left my position as manger in 2002.

I was employed then by People with Disability in Ireland Ltd. This was I though was a dream job. Traveling across the country, I began to appreciate the issues disabled people from all walks of life and did so until the ‘’crash’’ when we were closed down as we were surplus to requirements in 2011.

During this time, I learned of issues of poverty, transport, education and opportunities of work during this time. Also, shocking stories of abuse, and levels of neglect. Along with been ignored by politicians and paternal attitude by supporting the charity model. Disabled people need to use our voice and collectively seek change. CIL is a method we can use to bring about change.

Now married late in life with two young adults and my wife who is active in the deaf community. I was fortunate to know many of the great Comrades who have left us in CIL in the last 24 months. Naming names will not do them justice in this piece. Needless to say, the left a big impression on me.

My motto is ‘’Glass half full.’’

Michael Nestor

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 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.

Selina Bonnie MA

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.

Audrey Brodigan

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.

Sinead Murtagh

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