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26 Jan 2022

International Day of Disabled People promotes the rights of disabled people in Longford and beyond

Celebrating International Day of Disabled people 3rd December 2021

Longford's James Cawley

Today is International Day of Disabled People, a day we can use wisely to promote the rights of Disabled people says James Cawley, Longford native and National Policy Officer with Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI). 

James tells the Leader, “Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2018. Article 19 of the UNCRPD states that Disabled people have the right to live in, be part of, and use services and amenities in their communities. They should choose where and with whom they live with appropriate and adequate supports.

"Independent Living is not just about living on your own or doing things for yourself, it is about having the freedom to have the same choices that everyone else has in housing, transportation, education and employment. Independent Living is about choosing what aspects of social, economic and political life disabled people want to participate in. It is about having control over your life whether that is to have a family, to get a job, to participate socially and to realise your goals and dreams.”

Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI) is a campaigning, National cross impairment Disabled Person’s Organisation (DPO) which is led by and for Disabled people. ILMI promote the philosophy of independent living and seek to build an inclusive society. Central to the way ILMI work is to ensure that policy decisions that impact on the lives of disabled people have to be directly influenced by those whose lives are directly affected. Their philosophy can be summed up as: ‘Nothing about us without us!’ and ‘Rights Not Charity’.

ILMI work collectively to create an Independent Living Movement in Ireland and promote a rights-based social model of disability, challenging the charity /medical model of disability. 

On Wednesday the 1st December ILMI launched their Making Inclusion A Reality  report which looks at developing best practice for the active participation of disabled people in their local decision making structures such as Housing Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs).

Mr Cawley tells us that “as per the National Housing Strategy for Disabled people 2022 - 2027 which is due to be launched in the coming days every local authority must have a Housing Disability Steering Group (HDSG) with a person of lived experience of disability on it. These HDSGs are tasked with writing their local strategic plans to house Disabled people so launching 'Making Inclusion a Reality' was really important on Wednesday because other local authorities could adopt this model which has been successfully done in South Dublin County Council.

"Just yesterday Thursday 2nd December myself and my colleague Claire Kenny also a Longford native and is the Longford ILMI HDSG representative presented to the Longford Co Co HDSG.”

ILMI has been leading many online events in the run up to today and have created many online spaces throughout the pandemic including a mixture of peer, policy and social spaces in addition to their ONSIDE, CREATE and Strategies for Change project which all empower disabled people to participate and have equal access to Employment, Housing, Transport, Activism, Independent Living and being included in the community and combating social exclusion. 

Finally, Drumlish’s James Cawley leaves us with this point on international day of disabled people “Today is a day to be celebrated as disabled people make up a massive population and can be your son, daughter, brother, sister, Mam, Dad, Husband, Wife, Friend, Co – worker but it is also a day to continue to work on implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

"It is one step forward in ratifying an international convention but now what we need is for us all Disabled people, non-disabled people, society, communities and politicians to work towards the full implementation of the international treaty Ireland ratified (UNCRPD) in 2018”. 

If you are a Disabled person and want to join a movement of Disabled People across Ireland email: jamescawley@ilmi.ie or visit: www.ilmi.ie for more information

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