'We all have the power to make a change'
DISABILITY rights campaigner Joanne O'Riordan has called on the people of Ireland to "take control" from people who have misused their power to the detriment of the country.
Joanne, who was born without arms or legs due to a rare condition known as Total Amelia, was speaking at the Sinn Fein Summer School in Ballyvourney last weekend.
"It would appear that the society I live in and the society we choose to accept has far less value and respect for the ordinary, hard working citizens of this country," she told the captivated summer school gathering.
"We should never allow anyone to hold us back because we all want to live a life that is fair, honest and just. The only difference is we allow others to take control.
"The only person who is control in my life and my destiny is me.
"I'm literally only one of seven people in the world living with this rare physical form and I can safely say it does not make me different; It simply makes me unique," she told the audience.
She was critical of the government's cuts to disability services, and said that as a society Ireland should be empowering people to control their lives.
"We fought for independence once and we won. If we have to fight it again then so be it, but we should not sit back and allow people in power or people who mistreat power to get away without taking responsibility.
"People often misjudge me and my ability but believe it or not I can do most things any able bodied person can do," she said.
"There is no obstacle in life only you. We all have the power to make a change; just like Kevin Barry, the hunger strike victims and many more besides them. It is just that some need more help than others along the way," Joanne concluded.
Other speakers at the Sinn Fein Summer School over the weekend included journalist and soccer pundit Eamon Dunphy and Cork GAA star Seán Óg Ó hAilpín.