Independent Living Movement Ireland

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

Chief Executive  – Damien Walshe


Damien joined CIL in October 2017 and has over 15 years experience in equality and human rights organisations, including the Irish Traveller Movement, the Equality and Rights Alliance and Aontas. Damien is keen to bring previous experience of actively engaging and supporting people to work collectively in to CIL to ensure that people with disabilities see CIL as a vehicle for change to bring about equality in Irish society.

Communications Officer


Nina joined CIL in 2011 to work on what was then called the Strasbourg Freedom Drive now the Brussels Freedom Drive and has worked on many other projects where she helped coordinate the communications and event management, including the Mansion House “Meet your TD” event where CILs and their members from around the country came to speak with their local representative. Nina also worked on the Personal Assistance Bill project and the Disability Studies course run in conjunction with NUI Maynooth.

With a background in corporate communications and marketing a degree in Graphic Design and Fine Art Nina has a diverse range of experience and skills and bring them all to the Irish Independent Living movement. The CIL eBulletin, the CIL Social media accounts and maintaining links with and building the CIL membership are part of her day to day work.

Development Officer – Susan O’Brien


Susan has been employed with CIL since 2003. Prior to joining CIL she graduated from NUIG with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Susan went on to study for a Masters in Business Studies where she specialised in Electronic Commerce. She was a member of the academic team in NUIG for two years before going on to work in logistics management for a multinational healthcare manufacturer. Susan’s original role with CIL centered on European development. She is currently the Development Officer.

Policy Officer – James Cawley


James joined ILMI in August 2018. He graduated with a BA in Business and Geography and a Professional Masters of Education at Maynooth University. Previous to his role with ILMI James was a secondary school teacher and has done research on disability issues on a National and European level. James is a leader of his Personal Assistant service (PAS) which allows him to live a life of choice, dignity and respect.

Peer Mentoring Worker – Shelly Gaynor


I have recently joined the ILMI team as Peer Mentor for the Greater Dublin Area. My role is to directly work with disabled people in the Greater Dublin area to access the supports and services they need to live independent lives. I’m very excited about this role as I have been involved in the Independent Living Movement for over twenty plus years in Ireland. I have had the pleasure and privilege to call many of the founders of the movement personal friends of mine not only were they friends but also peer mentors to me on my own journey to independence and onto independent living.

Independent living is something I’m very passionate about and ensuring that disabled people have freedom, choice and control in their lives, something that non-disabled people take for granted. With this I have joined many activists across the country on numerous campaigns that had a focus on “rights not charity”. A personal highlight for me was in 2012 when I was part of a small number of people who did an overnight stay outside Leinster house to make sure the government took us seriously and to ensure Personal Assistance Service funding was not going to be cut by 50 percent. We maintained that we were not going anywhere until we had the commitment in writing that this cut would not happen. It is moments like this that remind me of the importance of collective action and the strength of a movement of people working together.

Personally, I have been using a Personal Assistance Service (PAS) since the age of 18. I was with a service provider for nearly 20 however in recent years I have moved to direct payments via Aiseanna Tacaiochta (AT). A PAS allows me to be me, the person I want to be. I’m delighted to join the staff of ILMI in light of the momentous unanimous passing of the motion on PAS that happened in November 2019.

I hope to bring and indeed pass on the guidance and insight I have gained throughout the years to fellow disabled people that was shown to me. I was always told that if you really want something in life that in can be achieved once one is willing to work towards it. Nothing is handed to anyone on a plate disabled or not. Once you have the right mind-set that distant dream can become a reality.

I look forward to working with existing ILMI members and spreading the message and philosophy of independent living to other disabled people. I feel it’s important to let people know that they are not alone in the everyday struggle of daily living with a disability and that the movement is full of people with shared lived experience that is worth sharing.

ONSIDE Project Manager – Peter Kearns


Peter started work with ILMI in June 2019 as ONSIDE Project Coordinator. Peter graduated from Trinity College in the late 1980s with an English Honours degree and followed this with an MA in Film & TV Studies at DCU and a Higher Diploma in Adult & Community Education from Maynooth College. He also has higher Dips. in Disability Studies and Arts European Mentoring. Peter lectured at St. Angela’s College (NUIG) and has written-up QQ1-Level 8 & 9 Modules promoting a need for a Emancipatory-Advocacy way of thinking & practice for & with disabled people. In the mid 1990’s Peter established THE WORKHOUSE, a disability consultancy company involved in equality/mentor/arts training in Ireland, Europe and Asia. In terms of linking social model led disability equality with effective practice on the ground, Peter was a Community Support Consultant with Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency (DESSA) and Development & Policy Worker with Forum of People With Disabilities.. He is also a writer/dramatist, documentary & film maker. Peter also enjoys extreme trekking and has two children Deirbhile & Oisin and lives in Co. Leitrim.

ONSIDE Health & Housing Officer – James Casey


I joined ILMI in June 2019 as the Disability, Health and Housing officer with the ONSIDE project. Professionally, my background is in teaching and research and for several years I taught courses on film, media and literature in university. I have worked as an equality awareness consultant, an editor and as a reviewer for several international journals. I hold a BA in English and Philosophy, a MA in Film Studies and a PhD. My research focussed on how films represent and construct disability and impairments.

As a disabled person, I understand, and appreciate, the importance of the social model and how it has transformed our lives, our thinking and our fight for equality, but yet I am aware there are still challenges for us to meet as a collective. Disability equality is part of the wider equality movement, it is a matter of human rights, and we can achieve real and permanent change together. It is an exciting time to be part of independent living and disability rights movements.

ONSIDE Community Navigator Monaghan – Edel McGinley


Edel joined ILMI in June 2019 as Community Navigator (Monaghan/Louth) with the ONSIDE Project. Edel graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from Queens University Belfast in 2010. Since this she has worked in a variety of roles empowering people to take control of their own lives and fulfil their potential. Edel has experience supporting individuals with disabilities, mental health issues, long- term unemployment and addictions. Edel previously worked on a cross border project supporting disabled people overcome challenges to participating in everyday activities and become active citizens within their community. Edel is enthusiastic to be part of the ONSIDE Project and utilise her previous experience to help address social isolation amongst disabled people.

ONSIDE Project Administrator – Angela Coleman

My name is Angela Coleman, and I have joined ILMI as Part Time Administrator for the ONSIDE Project.

I have worked in the community sector for over 15 years, and hope to bring my experience and expertise to the role, and to support all members of the team.

ONSIDE Community Navigator Donegal – Orla Beirne


Orla joined ILMI in August 2019 and is the Community Navigator for the Donegal and Sligo region with the ONSIDE Project.

Orla graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Health and Disability studies from St Angela’s College, Sligo in 2014 and was accredited a Certificate in Training Delivery and Evaluation from the Open College Dublin in 2016. Before her role with ILMI, Orla worked as a Personal Assistant, Community Support Worker and delivered training programmes to different groups.

Orla has experience of delivering a social model service to disabled people in the community. This service involved supporting individuals to enhance their health and wellbeing by developing a personal action plan supporting them to identify their options and/or opportunities. Personal action plans entailed the individual engaging with mainstream facilities/services to increase their participation in all aspects of their lives.

ONSIDE Community Navigator Silgo / Leitrim – Fiona Brennan


Fiona graduated from the University of Ulster in the early 1990s with a BA in Art and Design, following her third level education she spent over a decade working with Leeds City Council gaining skills and expertise in the area of community development and inner-city regeneration.
Since returning to Ireland in 2004, Fiona has worked in a vast range of community and voluntary organisations supporting disabled adults to access education, training and employment opportunities. Fiona is excited to join the ONSIDE project and the ILMI team, learn from the considerable expertise of the ONSIDE team and project participants and gain a deeper understanding of equality issues, particularly in the area of disability rights and social inclusion.

ONSIDE Community Navigator / Louth – Clive Lowry


Since graduating from Cavan Institute in 2011 with a BTEC Higher National Diploma in Health and Social Care, Clive has supported disabled adults in the community under the social model of disability ethos for almost ten years. During which time he has acquired skills, experience and expertise with supporting disabled adults to actively participate in their own community, achieve personal goals and enhance their emotional health and wellbeing. Clive is a sports enthusiast with links to the GAA Community and is an activist with lived experience of disability. He is eager to learn new skills professionally and draw from the highly skilled and vast expertise of the ONSIDE Project and ILMI staff team.

The ONSIDE project will support disabled people to remove societal barriers and take control over of all aspects of their lives, thus promoting freedom, choice and equality by utilising the right’s based social model of disability. Clive is looking forward to developing new skills in the area of community development, activism and the development of a disabled person’s organisation in Co. Louth.

ONSIDE Community Navigator / Donegal – Mark McCullum


Mark has recently joined ILMI; he is a psychology graduate from the University of Ulster with over 20 years’ experience in the fields of arts based community development, group and one-to-one training, advocacy, issues pertaining to older people, an inclusive ethos. Mark was director of Blue Drum – The Arts Specialist Support Agency, responsible for developing the use of Arts Based Community Developing in Ireland.

He established the Balor Developmental Community Arts Group; a pioneering creative company aimed at developing social engaged art projects. Mark was also the Irish representative on the European Reminiscence Theatre Network, developing innovative training for families of people with dementia. He is a passionate advocate for an inclusive, fair and equal society. He is a thalassophile; a sea swimmer all his life and a founder member of the Gartan Open Water Swimmers and an international Cardiac athlete. He has two teenage daughters; Jade & Lauren and he lives in Raphoe, Co. Donegal with his faithful German Shepard – Imme.

ONSIDE Community Navigator / Monaghan – Audrey Wilson

(Maternity Cover)

Audrey joined ILMI in November 2020 as Community Navigator (maternity leave cover Monaghan) with the ONSIDE project. She has worked in the social inclusion and community development sector for more than 15 years and is a passionate advocate for inclusive communities, where every individual can flourish and participate fully. Audrey brings expertise in the area of gender equality and women’s leadership and has worked extensively on gender justice projects in Ireland and internationally.

In her spare time, Audrey volunteers as an English language tutor with Failte Isteach and is currently supporting the Corrymeela Community with the development of a gender based violence resource for faith communities. She is looking forward to working alongside the ONSIDE team and gaining further experience in the field of disability equality.

Strategies for Change Project Worker – Fiona Weldon


Fiona Weldon joined ILMI in November of this year and has over 30 years of experience in working in the Disability Sector. All of her work is motivated by the reality of the effects of segregation, exclusion and non-disabled professionalism. Henceforward promoting the need for a Rights Based Model of Support to people that are labelled disabled (as opposed to our current resource based model of support that is dominated by both the Medical Model of Disability and the Charity Model of Disability) that is driven by both the Social Model of Disability and the Philosophy of Independent Living as professed by the Disabled People’s Movement.

Fiona’s initial work in this sector involved setting up a local Independent Living Service offering Personal Assistance to local disabled people that wanted more choice and more control over the human supports that they needed to assist them with their daily living tasks.

Fiona holds an MA in Disability Studies, Diploma’s in Community Development, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Counselling Skills. She also holds Certificates in other subjects including Advanced Facilitation, Equality Studies, Social Care, Reality Therapy, Assistive Technology and Supported Self-Directed Living.

Fiona has worked for the National Institute for Intellectual Disability (NIID) in Trinity College, NUI Maynooth and the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre in Dublin City University. Her work here involved evaluating/researching and/or delivering evidence based Bespoke Training Programmes that purposely intended to enable disabled people to believe in themselves to want better lives. This work has both travelled nationally and internationally.

ILMI Intern – Maryam Madani


Maryam started at the end of September 2019 and her role as intern for the next six months will involve working with the staff team to build on the work of previous interns in building a political lobbying database to ensure that all councillors, TDs and senators are aware of ILMI as a DPO, are perhaps willing to support and engage with us, and that ILMI’s policy discussions are disseminated to them.

Maryam is a proud disabled woman and wheelchair user with a BA in English Honours from Trinity College Dublin and an MA in Journalism from TU Dublin (DIT). She has worked as a journalist, jazz singer and housing activist for Dublin Central Housing Network. Her MA thesis on media representation of disability in the abortion referendum coverage highlighted the lack of self-representation of disabled people and lack of awareness of the social model in the discussion, issues which are central to ILMI’s philosophy. She is am honoured to work for a DPO which espouses these ideals and which is genuinely led by disabled people for a change.

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