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Parents tell brave Joanne: Stay out of the limelight

SHE'S the inspirational teen whose infectious personality has lit up TV chatshows and various high-profile events over the past year.

But Joanne O'Riordan has been told to limit her public appearances and prioritise her schoolwork -- by her parents.

The 16-year-old, who was born with no limbs, has found herself more in demand than ever following her impressive address to the UN in New York earlier this year.

But her parents have admitted they are concerned that the number of TV interviews and functions she is attending could hamper her performance at school.

And they have ordered the Cork teenager, who is in her pre-Leaving Cert year at Millstreet Community College, only to attend events that take place in the holidays.

Joanne will tonight talk about her life at the Kinsale Peace Project, before heading down to Co Wicklow next week to accept a bravery award.

But her mother Ann, who will accompany Joanne to Kinsale today, said it was vital her bright daughter is not distracted from her school work during term time if she is to do justice to her abilities.

She said: "She needs to knuckle down to the schoolwork, because she's taken too many days off school already. It's important to limit the events to when she's on holidays."

However, Joanne, who recently revealed her ambition to become a TV host herself and front a light-hearted chatshow, is unlikely to be out of the media spotlight for long.

In the next few weeks she is expected to go to Birmingham to meet Tina Stark, a 27-year-old who, like Joanne, is one of just seven people in the world with Total Amelia Syndrome.

The meeting is being recorded by Joanne's filmmaker brother Steven, as part of a €100,000 project, called No Limbs, No Limit, which is due for completion by next April.

Meanwhile, four expert teams from around the world are continuing to work on developing a robot for Joanne, in response to a call she made to technology leaders in her UN address last April.


Speaking of the difference that the artificial companion, which she has already christened 'Robbie', could make to her life, she said:

"When I get older, I will be more interested in moving into my own house and I want to get something to open the doors or make me tea or coffee."

The ambitious project was given added impetus recently when Science Foundation Ireland became involved.