Receiving full support for her motion calling upon Westmeath County Council to appoint a co-ordinator from within the local authority to liaise with the relevant authorities pertaining to ‘Make Way Day’ on September 25, Green Party Councillor, Hazel Smyth, noted the persistent need to champion the rights of persons with disabilities within the county.
“Persons with disabilities have the same right to use and enjoy public spaces and services as everyone else, as well as acknowledging the obstacles that people with disabilities face in their lives due to ill-placed hazards or thoughtlessness,” Cllr. Smyth remarked.
The Green Party Councillor noted that obstructions such as bins, sandwich boards and vehicles parked on footpaths present huge difficulties for those with mobility concerns.
Cllr. Smyth raised the idea of affording award or recognition by Westmeath County Council on ‘Make Way Day’ to those who have been leaders in disability inclusion and for a public meeting to be held between those in the business community, public representatives and those people with disabilities from within the community to discuss ongoing issues and areas for improvement.
She requested regular updates from Westmeath County Council’s Disability Access Officer on the work that was being carried out on behalf of people with disabilities in the community.
A major issued which was raised by Cllr. Smyth was the need for assistive technology to be considered by the local authority in public spaces, such as adaptive keyboards in the public library and for communication boards in public parks (as is the case in Wexford ).
Green Party colleague, Cllr. Louise Heavin, voiced her support for the motion, noting that there was a need for all public representatives and members of the public to use social media on ‘Make Way Day’ to show the obstructions that exist for those with disabilities.
Cllr. Tom Farrell noted that this issue should be added as a matter for the planning strategic policy committee to consider more broadly and Cllr. Davitt stated that it would be worthwhile linking in with sports clubs within Westmeath on this pertinent issue also.
This motion aligns with the National Disability Strategic Plan to support those with disabilities in our community.
Cllr. Smyth was delighted with the Council’s commitment to support ‘Make Way Day’ and is looking forward to working with those in Westmeath who might be willing to support this initiative also.
Westmeath now join over 15 counties in the country who have committed to supporting ‘Make Way Day’. It is hoped that this will be the first of many here in Westmeath.