A CAMPAIGNER has welcomed the news that the Irish Wheelchair Association and Cork City Council are to carry out an accessibility audit on streets and parking in Cork City centre.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said he received confirmation from the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) that they will be conducting an accessibility audit with Cork City Council in the coming weeks.
“Having met with the IWA recently, in relation to accessibility in Cork, I’m absolutely thrilled to see this move towards creating an accessible Cork City for everybody this summer,” Mr Gould said.
The Cork North-Central TD said that he has been highlighting the issue for almost a year, following the pedestrianisation of a number of streets in the city.
“The pedestrianisation of streets has been such a positive step forward for many businesses and has created a real buzz around town,” he said.
“What we’ve seen, though, is that some of this has resulted in reduced accessibility for those with disabilities. This is a massive step backwards and something that needs to be addressed immediately.”
Mr Gould said he hopes that any issues that arise from the audit will be rectified immediately.
He added: “This summer, the buzz around town needs to include everyone: People of all abilities enjoying outdoor dining and Cork’s beautiful centre.
“Hopefully, this accessibility audit will be the first step in ensuring that happens.”
Carol Rice, who has been an advocate for people living with a disability for many years, welcomed the news.
Ms Rice, who has restricted growth, described it as “a step forward”.
Following the announcement of plans for the permanent pedestrianisation of streets in the city, Ms Rice had raised concerns about their impact on the disabled community and on disabled parking.
Commenting on the news of the audit, Ms Rice said that it feels like the disabled community has been heard.
“It’s kind of an overwhelming day for me, because this is a battle that has been going on for over a year now.
“I suppose, for me, as an advocate, the Irish Wheelchair Association is a huge organisation, and it feels like I’m finally being heard and the advocates that I’m working with.
“It’s like a step forward that we’re finally being heard,” Ms Rice said.
Ms Rice added that if we can create a city that is “accessible for all, it will create an influx of tourists”.