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Newstalk

14.00 3 Dec 2015


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Happy December 3rd. Yes, it is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Yes, I know it can be a bit happy clappy. The amount of international days has mushroomed since its inception - so the gloss may have lost some of its shine but it does give me a bit of a smile to know that I’m part of a day that recognises a large part of my experience.

So, how has Ireland marked the day? Are there any big events that mark it or will the usual hardworking but relatively anonymous groups of disabled people gather for a launch of a video, a book or a seminar?

Those big set-piece events stuck in my mind as I read one piece and listened to another to mark the day. The written piece by Mandy Johnson correctly outlines the number of disabled people there are in the country. It lays out cogently the way government cutbacks adversely affected disabled people and their families and it makes a plea to have disability seen as a social rights issue.

I should be delighted.

Moving to the airwaves, Mo Flynn, who was given the poisoned chalice of trying to rehab Rehab, gave a set-piece interview to Chris Donoghue on Newstalk Breakfast about how sackcloth was still in fashion. Gone were the days of Rehab as 'big 'n' brash'. Mo wanted to steer the ship back to its charitable roots. It will help and support disabled people. Mo will be the model of propriety.

Again this should make me happy.

Two active citizens standing up for what is right.

Naming oppression.

Telling us how it is.

The thing is I feel a bit cheated. They are non-disabled people discussing events which, they really don’t have any experience of. Do they live with a disability? Is this the best way to celebrate the day?

Imagine if Rehab had a disabled CEO?

Imagine if there was a disabled person who had gained the same influence as Ms Johnson had?

Now, that would be worth celebrating. Real-life role models that we can celebrate.

Until then, we only have small groups of disabled people prodding us, reminding us that barriers are still there. The fight goes on. We will get there.

For the day that’s in it, here is a video by the Self Advocacy group from Inclusion Ireland. They keep it real.

It’s all about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Have a great December 3rd.


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