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Wednesday 16 January 2019

Now brave Joanne to take on the world at UN event

Joanne O'Riordan with brother Steven and mum Ann in Cork
Joanne O'Riordan with brother Steven and mum Ann in Cork
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A COURAGEOUS Irish teenager born without limbs who made the Taoiseach rethink cuts to disability payments is to address the UN in New York next week.

Joanne O'Riordan (15) from Millstreet in Co Cork, stole the heart of the nation when she appeared on 'The Late Late Show' last December to discuss how she tackled Enda Kenny on his plans to cut disability payments for young people.

But it was her upbeat sense of humour that caused host Ryan Tubridy to say "I love you" as she discussed her life with total amelia.

She is one of only seven known people in the world who were born without arms or legs due to the rare genetic condition.

And now she is about to fulfil a lifelong dream to travel to New York, where she'll give a speech to the UN on the use of technology by the disabled.

Paul Conneally, an Irish media adviser for the UN based in Geneva, saw her appearance on the RTE chat show and realised she would be "a perfect ambassador and inspirational speaker".

She will address the UN's International Telecommunication Union on how technology has helped her to lead a more normal life.

The Transition Year student is the only disabled person invited to the global conference called "Girls in Technology" featuring some of the world's top female experts in technology.

Joanne, along with her brother Steven O'Riordan, (28) and their parents Ann (51) and Joe (57) will travel to New York on Monday.

"I'm really excited. I've always wanted to go to New York," she told the Irish Independent last night.

And true to form, she hopes she'll get to inject a little humour into her speech.

"I suppose if I get the opportunity I'll do a few jokes, or just be myself," she said.

The family will also be celebrating Joanne's 16th birthday the following day, which she hopes will involve a limousine tour of the city.

Irish Independent

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