Independent TD Mattie McGrath has condemned as utterly intolerable the complete absence of wheelchair accessible Bus Eireann transport operating out of Clonmel Bus and rail station. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he initially responded to representations made to him by a number of wheelchair using constituents who are also deeply concerned about the dangerous lack of safe access to footpaths in Clonmel Town:
“My meeting today with the clients and service users of REHAB Care, in Bridgewater House Clonmel has raised serious questions about how we are continuing to deny our wheelchair users safe access to our town centre.
I have stressed to them that this matter will receive the utmost attention from me in an effort to resolve it.
I am also committed to finding out from Bus Eireann just why it is that for seven days of the week there is no wheelchair accessible transport running out of Clonmel.
The people I met with today are very distressed about this given that the Sectorial Plan on Accessible Transport which was published in 2006 makes it clear what the governments obligations are in accordance with the provisions of the Disability Act 2005.
That plan was supposed to address the accessibility needs of people with mobility, sensory and cognitive impairments across all transport modes and set clear scheduling targets for the introduction of accessible transport in Ireland.
Yet the fact of the matter is that according to Bus Eireann’s own information its current selection of accessible coaches only has one wheelchair space, which means they cannot guarantee a space will be available. They also request that wheelchair users notify your local Bus Station by telephone, 24 hours in advance of their journey.
This is more than inadequate given that the Sectorial Plan has now been in existence for almost a decade; in fact it is deeply offensive to have such limiting conditions put on a wheelchair users travel.
This Government has already abandoned the Motorised Transport Grant and no substitute seems to be forthcoming despite the fact we were promised a different scheme would be put in place.
When these two issues are combined it paints a scandalous picture about how we are treating the disabled members of our communities and it must be changed before we lock this group of people into further social isolation,” concluded Deputy McGrath.