In honour of July’s Disability Pride month, Ireland hosted its first-ever Disability Pride and Power parade in Dublin on Saturday, July 22.
Despite the rain, hundreds of people met at the Front Arch of College Green and participated in the parade up to the Taoiseach at Government Buildings by Merrion Square Park, which was the site of the 2012 sleep-out for personal assistance service rights.
Parade organiser Maryam Madani spoke about the social barriers, exclusion, building accessibility, public transport limitations and employment barriers people with disabilities face. She said: “We want to change the way disabled people are perceived. We also want to tackle the frustration and anger at societal barriers. Disabled people can’t wait for our human rights to be recognised.”
The first annual Disability Pride took place in Chicago, USA in 2004, and this year, Dublin’s event was scheduled on the same day as the Chicago event in solidarity.
The parade was both a “joyful celebration of our community’s power” as well as a protest to call attention to accessibility barriers, including a need for more lifts in Dart stations, more wheelchair-accessible buses, and stricter legislation around building accessibility. The protest also called for economic disparities and more affordable and accessible housing.
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Bernard Mulvany from Access for All Ireland said: “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”.
Disabled-led groups and grassroots campaigns in attendance included 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 and Gateway Mental Health Project among others.
Speakers included Acoustic Pink Advocacy Service, activist Daniel Airey, drag king Viktor Complex, and comedian Saoirse Smith. Together they reflected on the community’s resilience and creativity. Afterwards, everyone was invited to enjoy an afterparty with food provided by Cooking for Freedom.
— Disability Power Ireland (@_DPIreland) July 23, 2023
The parade followed a month of events for the disability community including a guided sensory tour, dance and theatre workshops, karaoke night, and a banner-making session. The next Disability Pride event in Ireland will take place in Ennis, Co Clare on Wednesday, July 26, and will include an after-party disco.
In addition to Disability Pride in Dublin, Saturday also marked Drogheda Pride where hundreds of people enjoyed a march and afterparty featuring Phil T Gorgeous and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner, Blu Hydrangea.
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