Disability rights campaigner secures enough points for criminology

Joanne O’Riordan, who was born without limbs, on her way to UCC

A disability rights campaigning who was born without limbs earned enough points in the Leaving Certificate yesterday (WED) to secure a place studying criminology at UCC.

Joanne O'Riordan (17) from Millstreet, Co Cork is one of seven people in the world living with a physical disability known as Total Amelia. She also suffers from scoliosis.

She rose to national prominence in 2011 when she challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny about cuts to disability benefit. Last year Joanne gave a keynote speech to the United Nations about how technology has helped her advance her life.

Joanne, who did her Leaving Certificate at Millstreet Community College, said she hopes to eventually branch out into broadcasting following completion of her criminology degree.


“First of all I am going to do criminology in UCC. I got that thanks to a scholarship. I had to get the results today to see if I got the scholarship. I got the results and got the scholarship so off I go. I got what I wanted anyway. I know I am not an eight A1s student.”

Joanne will receive a Quercus scholarship from UCC worth up to €10,000. She is among the first intake of students to qualify for UCC’s Quercus Talented Students’ Programme. The new scheme offers both prospective and current students the opportunity to apply for scholarships in a number of areas including academia, active citizenship, creative and performing arts, innovation/entrepreneurship and sport.

Joanne says she has always been interested in crime and how a criminal behaves. “I like the idea of trying to get into a criminal’s mind and hopefully try to understand them and why they commit the crimes they commit.”

Her father Joe said when his daughter sets her mind to doing something she does it. “As a father I’m so proud of her simply because the start she had in life was difficult but we have jumped those hurdles and this is what has happened.”

Joanne says UCC have transformed the complex in which she will live for the next three years. “They have gone the extra mile in adapting the house I will live in. They are making the environment in which I will study more accessible. I hope that these changes will not only help me but others like me.”

Meanwhile, amongst the best performing pupils in Munster was Brian Creagh of Douglas Community School in Cork city who scored Six A1s, a B2 and a B3.

Brian let out a series of disbelieving roars as he opened his results surrounded by his classmates. He hoped to achieve results in the late 500s but secured 625 points in what he admitted was an “If Carlsberg did Leaving Cert results” moment.

“I haven’t even told my parents yet. I think they are in the car picking up my brother. I can’t believe it. I was expecting to do well but this is something else. I had no idea. I want to do Business Information Systems in UCC. I was confident I would get my course but in the last few minutes I got really nervous. Things like maths I am naturally good at that so I did not put in as much effort. Things like accounting and physics and stuff I would have put in a lot of work. I did about three hours study a day on a school day. Applied Maths I didn’t think I did that well and got an A. English and Irish as well I thought I would get C’s not two B’s.”

Also among the celebrating students at the school was Paul O’Sullivan who said he was thrilled with his results.

“I was a bit nervous but I am happy. Hopefully I will get my course in chemical and bio pharmaceutical engineering at CIT. I am relieved. The nerves hit me this morning when I got up. “

The results were also very strong at Christian Brothers College in Cork where two students secured eight A1s .

Jack Cuthbert from Montenotte and Tim Fannon from Cobh were among 13 students across the country to score eight A1s.

Seven students at the school secured 625 points — 6 A1s in honours subjects, plus an additional twenty five points for earning top marks in honours maths.

Also in Cork, Kevin Ryan secured 8 A1s having completed the Leaving Certificate at Colaiste Chroí Naofa In Carraig na Bhfear.