Ireland’s first Disability Pride and Power Parade, in recognition of Disability Pride Month took place in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.
A colourful crowd of several hundred people gathered at the Front Arch of College Green before parading to office of the Taoiseach at Government Buildings – the site of a sleep out for personal assistance rights in 2012.
The world’s first Disability Pride parade took place in Chicago 2004 and the parades have been held internationally since.
Disabled speakers and performers urged disabled people everywhere to “come out of the shadows and make ourselves visible”. Those taking part included headline act Acoustic Pink Advocacy Service, activist Daniel Airey, drag king Viktor Complex, comedian Saoirse Smith and representatives from a range of Ireland’s disability groups.
Bernard Mulvany of the group Access for All Ireland said it was important that many of the groups had joined the Cost of Living Coalition as low rates of disability payments were “a huge issue”.
“Leo Varadkar said the pandemic payment of €350 per week was set at that rate because it was the lowest a person could live on. Yet the disability allowance is €220. I know a woman who has €850 a month and her rent is €555. At the end of the week she has enough for eggs and milk,” he said.
Mr Mulvany was in the parade with his daughter Sophia, a wheelchair user, who campaigned with him for lifts to be installed at all Dart stations.
Parade organiser Maryam Madani said transport was a really big factor. She herself had travelled in from Kimmage for the parade, which was difficult, but she normally travels from Dundalk which was where she lived because rents are so high in Dublin.
“Disabled People Can’t Wait. We can’t wait any longer for our human rights to be realised, while we suffer from social barriers, exclusion, lack of PA hours, lack of access to buildings, transport and employment. We can’t wait any longer for our voices to be heard” she said. “We can’t wait to come together and celebrate the beauty of our existence, which is a natural part of human diversity. We rejoice in the resilience, creativity and power of our community.”
Ms Madani said the parade, like LGBT pride parades, was both an occasion of celebration and protest as more needed to be done.
Mina Fitzpatrick from Gorey, Co Wexford said as a “blind person” she finds the bus service difficult and is aware that many of the Wexford buses cannot accommodate wheelchairs.
Among the disabled-led groups attending were: Neuro Pride Ireland, Disabled Women Ireland, Full Spectrum Ireland, Access 4 All Ireland, Physical Impairment Ireland, Disabled Artists and Disabled Academics (DADA), Voice of Vision Impairment Ireland, Gateway Mental Health Project and a cohort of disabled dogs from Golden Paws!
Clare Leader Forum’s disability pride parade, will take place in Ennis, Co Clare, 11.45am on Wednesday July 26th. Starting from The Height, it will march to The Temple Gate Hotel and back.
Disability Power Ireland members will join activists from the Clare Leader Forum and the parade will be followed by an after-party disco with finger food in the The Temple Gate Hotel from 12.45pm.