Rachael Ryan explores what life is like for the siblings of people with additional needs in Ireland today
“When I get to spend a night in my sister’s home, we laugh and giggle like siblings do and her disability plays no part in that because it’s just one part of who she is, the same way I have my nuances and my challenges”.
Broadcasting on Newstalk 106-108fm this weekend, new Irish radio documentary ‘Siblings’, produced by Rachel Ryan, tells the story of five sibling relationships around Ireland today – where one brother or sister just happens to have an intellectual disability. These sibling relationships; while no different to any other are at the same time unique in their own way- this documentary captures these stories of friendship, compassion and love.
Being a sibling of a person with additional needs can be an emotional journey; but ultimately an incredibly rewarding experience which can shape an individual’s outlook on life, often for the better. Broadcaster Rachael Ryan, as the sister of a sibling with an intellectual disability, can vouch for that.
In this documentary she talks to Irish people at all stages of life about having a sibling who has additional needs - experiencing childhood with their brother or sister, learning about their needs, sharing their struggles, celebrating their highs and ultimately deciding what role they will play in their future.
Sinead Redmond shares her story of growing up with her sister Deirdre and how having a sibling with additional needs while growing up brought on “every emotion under the sun.” Graham Heritich, also known as the Cupcake Bloke, talks about his brother Patrick and how their close relationship has been made stronger since Patrick has started working at Graham’s bakery, “It’s normal - I have a job, you have a job, Patrick has a job.” Molly speaks about her sister Fran’s journey to independence and how both sisters mutually benefit from each other’s strengths.
While a recent study by Dr Máire Leane from UCC has highlighted the lack of support for adult siblings of people with intellectual disabilities, there are several groups in Ireland aiming to bridge this gap. Rachael Ryan talks to representatives from Sibshop Ireland and Inclusion Ireland about the important role siblings play in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. This documentary also explores how areas like employment and Ireland’s social scene need to be challenged to become more inclusive for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland today.
BROADCAST TIMES: Siblings will broadcast live on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 14th April at 7am, with a repeat broadcast the following Saturday 20th April at 9pm
PODCAST: Podcast will be available on www.newstalk.com/podcasts after the first broadcast
CREDITS: Siblings was produced and presented by Rachael Ryan. Sound Editing was by Lochlainn Harte. This documentary was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, with the television licence fee.
If you’d like to get in touch with any of the organisations mentioned in this documentary, here are some details:
Inclusion Ireland provide support and advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, you can find out more information at inclusionireland.ie
Sibshop Ireland run workshops for children (aged 8-12) who have a brother or a sister with special needs who want to connect with others who are in similar situations. Find them on Facebook by typing in Sibshop Ireland.
‘That’s Life’ which runs ‘Bounce Nightclub’ is a personal development programme of the Brothers of Charity Services in Galway, find out more at thatslife.ie
Dr Máire Leane works at the school of Applied Social Studies at University College Cork, she carried out a study into the relationships, roles and support needs of adult siblings of people with intellectual disabilities in 2016. Find out more about UCC’s disability support service at https://www.ucc.ie/en/dss