Film on access in Galway shocks councillors

The screening of a film on life for disabled people in Galway caused shock at Monday’s city council meeting but also hopes that it will be the first step in tackling the issues being raised.

The documentary Welcome to Our World, directed by Margaretta D’Arcy and produced by Finn Arden and Laurie Allen, was shown to councillors, following efforts by Independent councillor Catherine Connolly to have it shown at a meeting.

While it had taken six months for this to happen, Cllr Connolly said it was “well worth the effort given the positive reaction of the city councillors and management”. She described the film as depicting “in a very clear and raw manner the serious difficulties facing persons a disability trying to negotiate the city’s streets and footpaths”.

Cllr Connolly also noted how, after watching the film, councillors and city officials “acknowledged that much work remained to be done to improve access for all”, including dishing footpaths properly, removing unnecessary obstacles on footpaths, ensuring footpaths are wide enough for wheelchairs and prams/buggies, and stopping illegal parking in disability bays.

The film makers were also pleased with the reaction to Welcome to Our World.

“We were delighted at the councillors’ genuine emotional response to the issues raised in the film,” said Laurie Allen, she went on to note councillors’ reactions.

“We hope that the emotional response, ‘The last half an hour has been the most disturbing time I have had in the last 20 years in any council meeting I have attended’; ‘I am ashamed and embarrassed as a city councillor to look at this disturbing, emotional, and raw film’; ‘Does it take the likes of this to bring us to our senses’; and ‘Every school and community group should show it’. We hope these words will be followed up upon.”

Cllr Connolly regards the screening as a first step in a campaign of improving disabled access across the city. She was keen the film be shown at a Galway County Council meeting and Monday’s meeting also saw councillors support her motion that two yearly written reports come back to the councillors setting out what measures are being taken to improve access in the city.

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