‘Empowering Our Future’ supporting People with Disabilities in Dublin into Employment and Self-Employment

Conference addressing Employment Challenges for People with Disabilities, a joint initiative of The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Dublin City Council and TU Dublin.

‘Empowering Our Future’, a conference focused on the challenges faced by people with disabilities seeking employment and self employment was co hosted by The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Dublin City Council and TU Dublin in the Mansion House today.

Keynote speakers included James Casserly of Jimbo’s Accessible Adventures, who has cerebral palsy and juvenile arthritis himself. James shared his experiences of travelling across country and tips to make it travelling more accessible in the process. Senator Tom Clonan also contributed to the conversation by addressing the need to move from Victorian views of disability to a broader perspective that gives recognition to people with disabilities and their contribution in the society.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste expressed his support and enthusiasm for the conference’s probable impact on making Dublin an inclusive city. He stated, “Access to equal opportunities is the right of every individual and this event reflects our commitment to making it happen for the people of this city. I look forward to seeing the after effects of our discussions today and the resulting changes.”

The panel discussions on supporting self-employment and supporting employment were the highlight of the day. Professor Thomas Cooney of TU Dublin led the panel on self-employment, with a focus on the steps that need to be implemented in order to help people start their own business despite the challenges.

Professor Cooney emphasised, “The implementation of supportive measures as a community is crucial in igniting the entrepreneurial spirit. The forthcoming national disability strategy needs to include references to self-employment, and tailored supports are also needed to encourage people with disabilities to start their own business.”

He added, “It was inspiring to listen, discuss and contribute to the different ways one can implement these measures and facilitate entrepreneurship. I am hopeful and looking forward to paving the way for individuals to embark on their own business ventures and build their lives the way they envision.” Top of Form

Speaking at the conference, John Dolan, CEO of the Disability Federation of Ireland, said, “We at the Disability Federation of Ireland are proud to be a part of this much needed conversation. Entrepreneurship does not discriminate and it’s a transformative journey to be on. DFI is very appreciative of this initiative and the key role played by The Lord Mayor of Dublin, DCC Local Enterprise Office and TU Dublin. It is vital to have mainstream entities taking leadership and working with the disability movement. UN CRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) implementation is everyone’s responsibility. We look forward to supporting this work.”


The conference featured a lineup of influential speakers including Anne Marie McDonnell, Head of Service Design and Innovation, Rehab Group; Emilie Conway, Entrepreneur and Vocal Jazz Artist; Edel McSorley, Operations Director with MrPrice Branded Bargains; Natasha Kinsella, Regional Skills Forum Manager Dublin, Caroline Power, Project Manager, Dublin Regional Enterprise Plan and Mei Lin Yap, Senior HR Assistant, Cpl, Trinity College Dublin among other dignitaries. The event also saw engaging panel discussions which provided an insightful exploration of the issues that need to be dealt with. Topics covered included the ‘Welfare Benefit Trap’ as a barrier to people seeking employment, and the ongoing issue of employers not valuing the capacity of people with disabilities to be excellent employees.

Closing the conference, the Lord Mayor of Dublin encouraged reflection and gave a commitment to actioning the discussion points within Dublin City Council over the coming months.

The conference was live-streamed on the Dublin City Inclusion website and is available for viewing at dublincityinclusion.ie 

‘Empowering Our Future’ Supporting People with Disabilities in Dublin into Employment and Self-Employment is part of Dublin City’s Local Enterprise Week 2024 which is taking place from 4th to 9th March 2024. Further information is available from https://www.localenterprise.ie/DublinCity.