November 10, 2020
Failure to make public spaces accessible ‘locking out’ people with disabilities – Pauline Tully TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability Pauline Tully TD has expressed deep concern at results of a survey by the Irish Wheelchair Association published today, which reveals people with disabilities are effectively ‘locked out’ of public spaces due to failures to make spaces accessible.

New research published by the association finds 77 per cent of people with physical disabilities have issues using public pavements, parking and pedestrian crossings. In addition, 66 per cent struggle to access public buildings, healthcare, retail and leisure facilities.

Teachta Tully said: “This is deeply concerning. It is clear that people with disabilities continue to face unacceptable barriers in public spaces. This report shows very starkly that the Government must do much more in order to ensure all citizens can fully participate in society.

“Frustratingly, most of these issues are not new and campaigners have been highlighting them repeatedly to no avail. It is very evident that there has been very little improvement in accessibility across recent decades.

“The standards are there but there needs to be regulation and monitoring to ensure they are met and that our citizens with disabilities can have their rights vindicated.

“Recent occurrences such as Al fresco dining during the pandemic and the pedestrianisation of city centres has unfortunately meant that many disabled parking bays have been moved or made inaccessible without any consultation with people with disabilities. This is deeply unfair. People with disabilities cannot be treated as an afterthought by policy makers, they must be considered and consulted in policy changes.

“A change of outlook and mindset within every section of society is needed to make this country inclusive. Every government department needs to play a role in ensuring that.

“Every citizen should have the right to live a full and active life without exclusion whether that be in the areas of housing, transport, education or employment.”

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