Throughout a long and distinguished history, namhi has played a proud role in representing people with an intellectual disabili.ty. Based on the principle of full and equal participation, the organisation never wavered in its determination to give a voice to Irish citizens who were on the margins, citizens who had no voice of their own. Our campaigns, services, research and publications all helped to start critically important debates and to contribute to them. Over nearly 45 years, namhi grew to become the largest and most genuinely national representative organisation for people with an intellectual disability, with 160 affiliated organisations throughout the country and hundreds of individual members.
namhi is, however, no more. No, it hasn’t disappeared, or suddenly decided to give up the fight. Instead, namhi has changed its name to INCLUSION IRELAND. The main reason for doing this is because the people we represent—people with an intellectual disability—asked us to do so.
For several years, the name namhi was the acronym for an out-of-date concept. The letters stand for ‘National Association for the Mentally Handicapped of Ireland’; the term ‘mental handicap’ is completely old.fashioned and offends a great many people, especially self-advocates.
As well as the new name, INCLUSION IRELAND has adopted an identity statement that will go on all our literature and material, and will be part of our new look. Reflecting the campaigns we have been involved in and what we stand for, the tag line will be ‘Promoting Rights, Independence, Dignity and Equality’.
It is not easy to change the name of an organisation, especially since it has been in existence for over 40 years. However, after many suggested names and much debate (a lot of it quite passionate!) we succeeded, and the members of INCLUSION IRE.LAND were able to arrive at a democratic decision that will steer us into the future. Under the guidance of Katherine O’Leary, chair of the ‘Name Change Committee’, INCLUSION IRELAND was agreed by the general members at an EGM, and adopted by the board.
In business, our old name would have been described as a ‘very strong brand’, with its long association and history. But the strength of any brand comes from much more than the name. It comes from the determination of the members to make a difference and the leadership given by people like former namhi president and long-standing disability campaigner Annie Ryan, and the leadership of our current Chairperson Stephen Kealy who has seen us through this change. We look forward to going from strength to strength under our new name with incoming chairperson Finula Garrahy and the unity of the whole organisation around our goals and objectives.
There are no labels in the name INCLUSION IRELAND. The name speaks for itself- INCLUSION IRELAND was decided on because there is a European organisation for people with an intellectual disability known as Inclusion Europe; the world-wide organisation is known as Inclusion International, and we are affiliated to both.
Our aims in INCLUSION IRELAND will be the same as they have always been—to fight for the rights of people with an intellectual disability. The team in INCLUSION IRELAND, led by our CEO Deirdre Carroll, will continue to work hard to ensure that the rights and needs of people with an intellectual disability are always high on the agenda. And we will continue to take great pride in our history and traditions, while we are looking to the future with confidence.
Side by side with the name change, INCLUSION IRELAND is changing offices, to an accessible and modern building close to the LUAS, Dart and Connolly Railway Station. Our new address is: Unit C2, The Steelworks, Foley Street, Dublin 1. Our other contact details are: Tel: 01.8559891 Fax: 01.8559904 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.inclusionireland.ie