Offaly Independent

Published: Thursday, 13th February, 2014 1:07pm

Tullamore couple to feature in RTE show "Somebody to Love"

Profile by Laura Ryder

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John Paul, Sarah and their daughter Alison.
Pic by==: 97

Tullamore couple John Paul and Sarah Fitzgerald will feature in a documentary to be aired on RTE tonight (Monday) looking at the romantic lives of people with physical or intellectual disabilities.

In their 30s, both Sarah and John Paul have cerebral palsy. Together for 14 years, they work, enjoy independent lives and are parents to 18-month-old Alison.

“We met Sarah at the Centre for Independent Living in Offaly and she immediately stood out to us as someone who had something very important to say about relationships and parenting with a disability,” producer of “Somebody to Love” Zlata Filipovic told the Offaly Independent.

“Sarah and John Paul’s contribution to our documentary is incredibly powerful and yet, as a family, they are very ordinary. The beauty of the scenes we filmed with them is this normality, and the fact that they don’t see themselves as any different from other people.”

The Wildfire Films Production for RTE includes John Paul’s and Sarah’s feelings that their ability to parent has been brought into question. It also looks at assumptions by the general public that they’re brother and sister, and dismissals of Sarah on the basis of her speech impediment.

“Many people with minority status in our society could identify with Sarah and John Paul’s experiences of subtle discrimination on a day to day level,” Zlata said.

“Although we often talk about equality, we often forget about people with disabilities, especially when it comes to sexuality. I think they communicate that they have the same needs and desires as any other person, and dispel the widely held myth of people with disabilities as asexual.

“I think often in society we don’t take time to listen to people who have disabilities, especially when it comes to speech impairment,” she added. “As Sarah herself says, if she’s making the effort to communicate, others should make the effort to understand.”

Directed by Anna Rodgers and produced by Zlata Filipovic, “Somebody to Love” will be aired on RTE One tonight at 9.35pm.

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