Dis­abil­ity­ac­tivist­said­heleft acoun­cilmeeting­in­tears

Drogheda Independent - - NEWS - By HU­BERT MUR­PHY

DIS­ABIL­ITY cam­paign­ers in Louth have been urged to be­come a ‘ thorn in the side’ of de­ci­sion mak­ers - af­ter one per­son re­vealed he left a meet­ing with Louth County Coun­cil in tears.

John Mor­gan said that he met a coun­cil of­fi­cial in a bid to im­prove the lives of wheel­chair users.

‘I’m 53 years old and came out cry­ing’, he told a shocked con­fer­ence on dis­abil­ity at the West­court Ho­tel on Sat­ur­day.

He said he got bet­ter luck with an­other coun­cil of­fi­cial Frank Pentony who went on a walk­a­bout with him in Dun­dalk and ‘ got some prob­lems’ fixed.

Com­mu­nity cam­paigner James O’Neill said that no-one should leave a meet­ing with the likes of a coun­cil of­fi­cial in such a man­ner.

‘ These peo­ple should be ac­count­able. The law of the land be­longs to the peo­ple and they should be gone’, he stated.

A se­ries of other is­sues were raised, not least the on­go­ing storm in re­la­tion to peo­ple park­ing on foot­paths in both Drogheda and Dun­dalk.

One lo­cal woman said that she had to go onto the road with her wheel­chair as cars parked on the foot­path. As a re­sult, other mo­torists flashed their lights and beeped at her. It is a si­m­il­iar prob­lem for peo­ple with bug­gies and walk­ing sticks.

A huge is­sue for many are buses with no ramps - even though 24 hours no­tice is given - and al­lo­cated space on trains. All too of­ten wheel­chair ar­eas are full of bag­gage or bug­gies. ‘You are left there like a lost soul’, one train user re­marked.

John Mor­gan said in Dun­dalk you can’t get a wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble taxi ‘ 99% of the time’ af­ter 6pm.

Proper plans in re­la­tion to Drogheda’s host­ing of the Fleadh in 2018 need to be agreed in terms of dis­abil­ity ac­cess and par­tic­i­pa­tion.

‘Plans need to in­clude all of the is­sues peo­ple are bring­ing up and they must be ad­dressed’, Mayor Smith re­marked.

Drogheda ar­chi­tect Florence Shields also said that young peo­ple es­pe­cially needed to be ed­u­cated in re­la­tion to dis­abil­i­ties and maybe that would rub off on their par­ents.

Sen­a­tor John Dolan paid trib­ute to the only sur­viv­ing founder mem­ber of the Ir­ish Wheel­chair As­so­ci­a­tion Oliver Mur­phy, say­ing there was no dif­fer­ence be­tween the IWA foun­da­tion and the meet­ing in the West­court.

‘ The first thing to do is make the case in your lo­cal com­mu­nity’, he stated. ‘We need to keep the po­lit­i­cal in­ter­est stoked up.’

He said he had been at the Ca­van Fleadh and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties were vol­un­teers and per­form­ers and that was im­por­tant for Drogheda next year.

He said the area was full of his­tory and that means tourism but Drogheda should re­mem­ber that mainly older peo­ple were tourists and they had to be cateted for. ‘ There is a busi­ness case here’, he re­marked.

He said he could sense ‘pal­pa­ble anger and frus­tra­tion’ amongst the var­i­ous Louth groups and they needed to turn that into ac­tions.

‘Get stuck into Louth, Dun­dalk, Drogheda and the other towns and vil­lages. You have to lead this your­selves’, he urged the large at­ten­dance.

Oliver Mur­phy said peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties did not want to be spe­cial - they just wanted a ‘county Louth that I can go any­where in.

There has been one hell of an im­prove­ment since the IWA was founded and keep it go­ing. Work to­gether, don’t give up,’ he urged.

Mayor Pio Smith fa­cil­i­tated the meet­ing and said that it cen­tred on is­sues with ed­u­ca­tion, ameni­ties and work and that all the as­pects would be put to­gether and pre­sented at a fur­ther meet­ing early next year.

A ‘Make Way Day’ takes place each year in Dublin to high­light dis­abil­i­ties and it is pro­posed to hold one in Drogheda next year.

‘I in­tend to meet Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Joan Mar­tin and agree a day to do this’, the mayor re­marked. It is likely to be a coun­ty­wide ini­tia­tive.

Mayor Smith said he learned a lot from the day and he had great faith in the peo­ple he worked within the coun­cil that mat­ters could be pro­gressed.

There are a num­ber of prob­lem park­ing ar­eas in Drogheda, not least out­side the Lour­des Hos­pi­tal where wheel­chair users can be de­nied us­ing the bus stop due to cars parked on the path.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.