UNDAUNTED: A tribute to the late, great Martin Naughton

Disability rights activist Martin Naughton passed away on Thursday at the age of 62

Martin Naughton, disability rights

Image: RollingNews.ie

I’m trying to think of the first time I met him, but I’m drawn towards the last, triumphant time our paths crossed.

It was a week before the Dáil returned from its summer holidays last year, a Wednesday morning. The September sun still had heat in it, but, even with that, would I have wanted to camp overnight outside Government Buildings? Martin did.

It was a bittersweet day. News had come through that Joe Mooney, CEO of Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (MDI), had passed on. Another leader for the disability movement in Ireland, Martin knew Joe was with him. When we chatted, in between numerous calls to Martin, he knew Joe was with him.

Camping outside a week before the Dáil returned. What madness was that?

In reality, it was genius. The Dáil might not have been sitting, but there were Cabinet meetings happening. Ministers and the Taoiseach had to drive or walk through the gates on Merrion Street, and as they did that, they had to get by Martin. 

Enda tried and what happened next? Poor Enda. Gazumped by Martin and his hat.  

Image: Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny talking to Martin Naughton from Dublin, who is protesting before todays cabinet Meeting. The protest is in aid of people with disabilities. The group organising the protest, the AT Network, criticised spending cuts made by the government to services. Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Whenever you met Martin and talked to Martin, you came away feeling good about yourself and what it means to be disabled.

Dylan getting the Nobel Prize on the same day just seems so right; the poet and the activist joined together on one day.

Good night Martin. I hardly knew you, but your struggle might make all our lives better.