Cork teenager born without limbs knows no limits as she flies to address UN conference in New York


INSPIRATIONAL CORK teenager Joanne O’Riordan, who was born without arms and legs, left Ireland yesterday ahead of addressing the United Nations in New York later this week on how technology has enhanced her life.

The transition-year student (16), Millstreet, Co Cork, will deliver a keynote speech to the UN’s International Telecommunication Union on Thursday.

Joanne, who suffers from an extremely rare condition known as Amelia syndrome, uses a number of different technologies to make her life more manageable.

Last December, she appeared on The Late Late Show to talk about her condition. It was this TV appearance that prompted organisers to invite her to address the UN conference.

She is the only person with a disability scheduled to speak at the exclusive “Girls in Technology” conference which will be attended by some of the world’s leading women in technology.

The Millstreet Community College student will address delegates on how technology has advanced her life through education and social interaction with others.

Yesterday, she flew from Shannon to New York with her parents and her elder brother Steven O’Riordan, a film-maker who is recording his sister’s week-long trip to the US for a documentary on her life.

Mr O’Riordan and Galway production company 200AD were recently granted funding from the Irish Film Board to produce a documentary on the teenager’s life with the working title, No Limbs No Limits.

Joanne came to prominence in December when she challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny over the Coalition’s plan to cut disability allowances for teenagers, a decision which was later reversed.

The teenager, who recently won an award for her school and community work in Millstreet, celebrates her 16th birthday today.

With the help of United Nations representatives, her parents have arranged for Joanne to be taken by limousine to the VIP section of New York’s Hard Rock Cafe tonight.