#Ratify UNCRPD

On Thursday March 30th, 2007 Ireland signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. (UNCRPD)

Ten years to the day later, and Ireland is the only EU country not to have ratified that same convention. Dr Meredith Raley, Research &  Policy Assistant with Disability Federation Ireland and their CEO Senator John Dolan joined me on Viva Vox, Dublin City FM to explain why ratification is so overdue and what will happen in Ireland post-ratification.

Listen to the show on the link below. Talk to anyone who will listen about this vital convention and use these on social media #ratifycrpd #makeequalitythepolicy

Puppy dog walkers needed

Puppy dog walkers take on a new member family when the dogs are around 6 weeks old. It is a massive commitment to make and takes up a full year of the volunteer’s life. The dogs need to be socialised, get used to crowds, and being mobile all the time. As a result these are not simply pets that can be left at home while owners go to work, these dogs are being trained to work and should really only be left alone for an hour or two, particularly at the beginning.

These dogs aren’t pets. For starters they are golden retriever, Labrador or german shepherd puppies. After that they are basically another toddler in the family. There are the late nights, the early mornings, the worries about sickness, not going on holidays, not going out at night without planning, cleaning up the mess after they go to the toilet.

Graham Maher, a supervisor of the volunteer Puppy Walkers in Dublin, joined me on Viva Vox to talk to me about the massive commitment these people make and how he understands that it is “not for everybody”. Graham told me that as the dogs will be working dogs and as such allowed to go everywhere with their owners, they should do the same during the year they spend with their puppy walker.

So, if there is a wedding or family event, the dog has to go along too. The same is true for holidays, nights out; any occasion where the dog would be attending as a guide/assistance dog they should be going with their host family.

As a result, Graham pointed out that a huge relationship is built up and the family have to be “strong enough to let them go” at the end of the year. At this point, the dogs return to the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind centre in Cork for training, which can take approximately six months. Host families can see it as a “bereavement” after all the effort they go to in the year but, as Graham says, the dog is still alive and going on to help someone who is blind or a child with autism.

The puppy walker can stay in touch and hear about the progress being made by their dog during the training in Cork. Graham told me, “it’s a big rush for the walker when they hear their dog has passed and has been matched with someone”.

For further information about becoming a Volunteer Puppy Walker see;


To hear my interview with Graham Maher follow the link below;


Incidence of dementia expected to treble in a generation

Last night’s RTÉ programme My Broken Brain  was an absorbing watch. Difficult at times but a vital watch for all of us.

It brought me back to my first radio show of 2017 for Dublin City FM. Have a read and listen below.

Tina Leonard, Alzheimer Society of Ireland, revealed to Viva Vox, that the current figure of 55,000 in Ireland with dementia could treble in a generation.

Alzheimer’s, which is a form of dementia, is not a natural part of aging but that is still a real risk factor. Therefore our aging population will contribute to this growth in incidence. It is not the only risk factor however of the numerous types of dementia which are “physical illnesses in the brain that create cognitive impairment which impinge on peoples day-to-day lives”.

Very often, people don’t think about risk factors when it comes to dementia. Staying healthy overall, exercising, reducing alcohol consumption, not smoking, and eating healthily all help to keep our bodies and muscles in good working order. This is true for our brains too.

Building up a ‘cognitive reserve’ by keeping the brain busy, doing repetitive movements (such as crosswords) and keeping it strong and robust can all help. Continuing to use the brain over the course of a life from school, through college/work, learning languages, socialising can all build the muscle just like going to the gym or exercising builds other muscles.

Physical evidence of dementia has even shown up in post-mortem, according to Leonard, without any signs or symptoms having being observed in life. It’s possible that a stronger, more active and robust brain is able to hold off the dementia for longer, similar to stronger immune-system holding off colds and flus.

The message to anyone noticing any symptoms of cognitive impairment is that it could be caused by stress, side effects of medication or anything else, or it could be a sign of something more serious like dementia, so the advice is to not delay and visit your doctor. Some of the symptoms described by Leonard included people having difficulty finding the words to say something or working out how to use a toothbrush.

With half the cost of caring for people with dementia already being borne by direct family members, it is vital we get involved to learn all we can about the illness and how best to manage it and care for someone living with dementia should the situation arise.

For more information or support about dementia/Alzheimer’s please see;


Or call the National Helpline on

 1800 341 341

Pat Clarke Down Syndrome Ireland

On March 9th’s episode of Viva Vox on Dublin City FM I spoke to Pat Clarke who is the CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland.

I began by offering Mr Clarke an opportunity to respond to the vulgar and crass comments made by David Haye in the build up to his recent fight against Tony Bellow. Kevin Kilbane, patron of DSI, spoke out very eloquently in a measured and controlled manner last week and Mr Clarke was happy to complement Kilbane who has been a “wonderful advocate for both Down Syndrome Ireland and its sister organisation in the UK”.

We then discussed the services and initiatives offered by DSI and their plans for World Down Syndrome Day which takes place on March 21st.

Listen below to the full interview and see http://www.downsyndrome.ie for all further information.

Access-Ability on The Wave 107.8

On Monday February 13th I presented a live show called ‘Access-Ability’ on our college radio station The Wave 107.8FM. For this show I wanted to highlight how much ability everyone has rather than focus solely on the disability and what we can’t do.

I also was in control of the faders and the sound desk for the show. It was great to have charge of what was broadcast but it brought another element to the table when I’m only learning my interview technique and interview style. I thoroughly enjoyed it though and like everything else, once I’d done it once, I wanted to do it again straight away. It’s all part of the learning process anyway.

In the portion of the show attached below are the interviews I conducted on the show. I’ve taken out some of the segments that I played into the show on the show. The interviews are with Arthritis Ireland volunteer Deirdre Hegarty and Sports Inclusion Disability Officer with the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, Brian O’Donnell.

Details of Deidre’s walking group are:


Wednesdays at 10.30am


Car Park, Cabinteely Park, Cabinteely, Co. Dublin, Ireland



Walking group for people with arthritis and related conditions.

For more information or to join this walking group, please call Deirdre Hegarty on 0879621234. All are welcome.

Information about Brian O’Donnell’s role is available here: