Centres for Independent Living in Ireland

The first Irish Centre for Independent Living was established in 1992, with location being Carmichael House, Dublin 7, by Martin Naughton.

Martin was born in 1954 in Spiddal, County Mayo.

As a child Martin was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and was forced to move to a residential hospital for disabled children in County Dublin.

Martin spent nearly 20 years of his life at St. Mary’s Hospital in Baldoyle.

He was Mayo born, but spent most of his life dreaming of living more independently, so he decided to open a Centre for people with disabilities who want to live a more independent.

First known as INCARE, the Dublin CIL was funded by the EU Pilot Project, and later was taken over by the Irish Wheelchair Association in 1995.

The Personal Assistance Services that are now available in Ireland came into existence in 1992 with a two-year pilot project that was initially run by CIL. It was recognised that in order to further the Independent Living Movement in Ireland, a consumer controlled Personal Assistance Service would be essential.

The key idea was a service which would assist disabled people in all aspects of daily living, provide assistance rather than care and is directed and controlled by the service user.

The programme, funded under the European Union Horizon Community Initiative, started in December 1992. It involved 29 leaders and 45 personal assistants. The programme aimed, for the first time in Ireland, to develop a range of personal assistance services managed and controlled by people with disabilities. It also sought to ensure that personal assistants were themselves educated and trained in the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to provide a professional Personal Assistance service.

There are now 18 Centre’s for Independent Living working with Leaders in their communities across Ireland. Over the past two decades, the Independent Living philosophy have provided an approach to remove barriers and obstacles that have restricted and denied the participation of Irish disabled folk. It provides a framework for the provision of equality and opportunities for the Leaders to participate in employment, education, social, recreational and cultural opportunities in Ireland.

The Centre for Independent Living supports people with disabilities in their endeavor to become independent. It is encouraged by CIL's, that people with disabilities make their own choices. It also helps to enable people with disabilities to open doors in society to full participation and access for all. Centres for Independent Living sometimes can assist people with disabilities with housing referrals and adaption, personal assistance referral or legal aid, depending on the public services in the community.

CIL's typically work with local and regional governments in trying to achieve improved infrastructure, raised awareness about disability issues and lobby for legislation that promotes equal opportunities and prohibits discrimination.