In the United States during the 1960's, discrimination against people with disabilities was identified as a major problem, thus leading it to become an issue of concern to the civil rights movement.

People with disabilities, like the African-Americans, were seen as having been marginalised by American society. The idea that all human beings, including people with many different types of disabilities, should have equal rights and opportunities under the law, became the cornerstone of the Independent Living Movement

The first Center for Independent Living was established in Berkeley, California in 1972. Underpinning its establishment were attempts by people to leave residential care and live independently in the community. (Sharkey, 2000)

Phil Draper, one of the founding members of the Independent Living Movement has said that the aim of the movement was to: '...develop a new perspective on disability- one which gave empowerment and civil rights to a person with disabilities...We were trying to give people the will and determination to move out of hospitals and institutions'. (Cited by Greg Moore in an article on the History of the Center for Independent Living- 10/7/91)

The first CIL in Ireland, CIL Carmichael House, was incorporated on 27 March 1992, today there are 22 CILs in Ireland.


Founding board of Carmicheal CIL Catherine Hickey - "in the course of my involvement with Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (MDI), where I was Director for ten years, I came to know  Martin Naughton and he asked me if I would become a member of Center for Independent Living (CIL). Shortly afterwards in March 1992 I became CIL's Secretary.  Several of my colleagues with whom I  worked with in MDI were living in residential care.  This was the only option available to them....I saw the advent of the CIL movement and its philosophy as providing an opportunity to leave residential care and live independently in the community"

Declan O' Keefe -  "I became involved in the Independent Living Movement in the late1980's and was one of the founding members of the Center for Independent Living in 1992.  From the beginning, we were aware of the importance of Personal Assistance and of the vital role of PA's in enabling those of us with disabilities to take control of our lives. Indeed, it was CIL's pilot programme, INCARE, which empowered me to live an independent life. This I consider to be my greatest achievement to date."

Hubert McCormack -  "As a founding member, I was part of a splinter group in the late 1980's driving the founding of the Irish CIL movement in 1992. I got involved in the CIL movement for I considered it as being a direct response to addressing disabled peoples needs, enabling me and other people with disabilities to move beyond residential care to environments where we could gain full and total control over our own lives. I may not have realised this at the time, but I remained involved because I suppose, like many of my peers, I was dis-satisfied with existing services and the way in which they were controlled and provided. The first issue we began to examine as a group, was housing and the lack of accessible accommodation. Very quickly we realised that suitable housing would be pointless to people with significant physical disabilities without the presence of a Personal Assistance Service, and this was one of the key factors which led us to establishing the INCARE programme, one of CIL's first undertakings. The INCARE programme examined, implemented and secured the provision of a personal assistance service. In turn, this led to the launch of the Irish Center for Independent Living. I have been working with Muscular Dystrophy Ireland since 1989, primarily in the area of administration, desk top publishing, Information Technology and website design. I designed the current MDI website, which I maintain regularly and I am also the editor of the "MDI News Update" a two-monthly publication, which is distributed nationwide amongst our membership. I   have always worked in the disability sector, previously with the Irish Wheelchair Association and The Chesire Foundation in Ireland.  Being part of the CIL movement , its founding and the setting-up of the PA service. And thus enabling people to have a choice and take control over their lives is what I consider to be one of my main achievements."

Michael McCabe Michael is manager of Blanchardstown Center for Independent Living and a member of National Advisory Group (NAG) on Independent Living. Michael has been active in the disability sector for the last 40 years. He is also involved with IWA and spent 8 years as its national chairman.

Ursula Hegarty (RIP) -  "I got involved in the Center for Independent Living back in the late 1980's. I was also one of the founding members in 1992. My involvement in the movement was greatly influenced by one of my closest friends who considered it to be the best way of  progressing forward. I was also supported and encouraged by some of my closest friends and peers. The thing I like most about the CIL movement is that all members are striving towards achieving the same thing, being independent and maintaining  uniqueness. In the course of my involvement, I have drawn great confidence and encouragement from others. Central to CIL is that there is room for difference, and in doing so it manages to encompass and represent a wide base of disabled people very successfully. As for the future, I would like to see the Center for Independent Living being run by and representative of disabled people.  The establishment of an Independent Living Fund would also be a very important goal.

Peter Moore - "I was one of the founding members of the CIL movement in Ireland. I was motivated by the need to be independent of my family.
The Independent Living Movement and its philosophy have enabled me to gain control over my own life. I work as a writer. In this respect, I have been successful in having a book published in 1990 entitled 'Rebel on Wheels'. . Even though this was long before the founding of the CIL movement, I employed a PA to assist me, without whom I wouldn't have been able to complete the book.  Through my involvement in the CIL movement, I am now writing in a way that I thought I couldn't. On a personal level I am involved in a relationship that would not have been possible without the personal assistance service that was initiated in 1992.  I say this because I was always of the opinion that I would not get involved in a relationship for somebody to care for me. Because I have personal assistants, I am no more dependent on my partner than if I was able-bodied.  For the CIL movement the future won't be easy, especially when faced with the contracting Irish economy. In its future direction the CIL movement will have to become more politically active."

Dermot Walsh Dermot Walsh worked in CIL from 1993-1998, first as Housing and Transport Officer and later as a Public Affairs Officer, which included campaigning for the Independent Living Fund. Dermot works as Disability Consultant with Dublin Bus, Irish Ferries, Irish Wheelchair
Association and many others.