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Joanne giving her speech in New York in April Bebeto Matthews via Press Association Images

Read Me 'I'm unique' - Joanne O'Riordan on a life without limbs

Joanne O’Riordan, who has Total Amelia, wants the world to know that people with disabilities can achieve their goals just like anyone else.

Joanne O’Riordan first shot to fame when she confronted Enda Kenny on disability cuts forcing the government into a U-turn.

Last April, the 16-year-old was asked to give the keynote speech at the UN’s International Telecommunication Union in New York. To mark her great bravery and determination in helping the disabled through her inspirational work she has been chosen as Cork’s Person of the Month.

In a quest to tell her story, Joanne and her brother want to make a documentary. Rehab Group announced it is to provide €25000 towards the making of the film.

MY NAME IS Joanne O’Riordan and I was born with a rare condition known as Total Amelia. This means I have no limbs. I’m literally only one of seven people in the world living with this disability but I never look at myself as being different, I look at my life and say I’m unique!

It’s hard to imagine that within a year my life has changed so much. In December 2011 I openly challenged our Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the government to reverse a cut they were going to make to people with disabilities in their 2011 budget. This I’m glad to say has resulted in many positive things happening in my life. I have travelled to America where I addressed the United Nations in New York and I’ve met some amazing people in the process. This included a Grammy Award winner.

Life with a disability

Life for people with disabilities is sometimes hard because I feel and think that we are not given the same chances and opportunities as others. The one aim I have had through all of this is to show that people with disabilities can live a life that is fulfilled, happy and for the most part obstacle free. I think It’s a shame that some people in society have a belief that if you have a disability you should never been seen or heard. I hate this because that attitude is damaging to anyone who has a disability including me. It does not allow us or indeed other to realise their true potential. Life should not be about disabling people it should be about enabling them to be and achieve better.

This is why my brother Steven O’Riordan decided to make a documentary about my life entitled No Limbs No Limits. He, like me, wants to the world and others to know that people with disabilities can achieve their goals and full potential if they are given the opportunity to do so.

I know that when people look at me they think and see things differently. They question my ability just because physically I look different. Its sad that these people can never realise that I just like them want to live a life whereby I’m not judged on my appearance but by my actions.


Our documentary, No Limbs No Limits, looks at this and looks at challenging people’s perception on how we see and look at people with disabilities. Steven began filming for the documentary just over one year ago. There have been a lot of ups and downs in the last few months and when Steven was refused full funding for the documentary from the Irish Film Board it was very frustrating. He and others had put in so much time and effort into getting the project to where they got it to and to have that rejected must have been a nightmare.

Of course he didn’t give up and continued to film even without the funding. That has resulted in so many people coming out in support of him and his idea and I was delighted to learn that he has now risen just over €65,000 in the space of a few weeks. He has been in undated with offers of help, support and just sheers good will that it makes me think that this project will and should be made.

Still with his target being €100,000 we just hope other companies and individuals will jump on board to make this a success. Steven says that: “For far too long have people with disabilities stood on the fringes of society. No Limbs No Limits shows us the endless possibilities of how one can live a very happy fulfilled life even if the odds are stacked against them. I have just been lucky to live with one such incredible person.”

If people are interested in helping out they can do so by emailing Steven email:

If you live outside Ireland you can donate online at www.nolimbsnolimits.netvia Paypal and if you live in Ireland you can donate to the following bank Account, Bank of Ireland, Millstreet Co. Cork Steven O’ Riordan Sort code: 905803 Account Number: 10686261 And if you’d like to follow me on Twitter or Facebook you can do so with the same title as the documentary No Limbs No Limits.

(Via YouTube/)

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