Thousands of them marched on the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday demanding the right to independent living.

They included 50 Irish people, many of whom had to travel overland because airlines made it so difficult for them to fly.

Martin Naughton of the Centre for Independent Living said more than three million of Europe’s disabled people were living in institutions.

“The institutionalisation of people with disabilities has a very negative impact on their lives. This continued practice is of very serious concern to us, particularly as in many cases it would cost less to support people living in their own communities.”