There has been an upsurge in the number of able bodied motorists parking in disabled parking bays in the city.
This is having a “significant” impact on drivers with disabilities who “genuinely need” to access these spaces, says Padraic Maher, the Irish Wheelchair Association’s (IWA ) service co-ordinator.
He was speaking in the wake of the launch of the organisation’s “Back in 5” campaign which took place recently in Galway.
People with disabilities and their families joined the IWA and other interest groups, such as the Brothers of Charity, Rehab Care, Galway Centre for Independent Living, and Access for All, to roll-out the initiative.
There are currently almost 75,000 disabled drivers/passengers parking permits in circulation in Ireland, according to Mr Maher. The availability of accessible parking spaces is an essential lifeline for motorists/ passengers with disabilities (who have a current disabled parking permit ), he said.
He stated that unfortunately far too often these spaces are occupied by able bodied drivers. With the increased volume of traffic in the city an unfortunate consequence has been an upsurge in motorists illegally parking in disabled parking bays. Accessible parking spots are very important to people with disabilities due to their size and access to amenities and facilities, he added.
“The name of the IWA’s campaign originated from the throw-away statement that people with disabilities hear on an all too regular basis when they confront a driver who has inadvertently parked in an accessible parking bay, ‘only running to the bank/shop, will be back in five minutes’.
“Accessible parking bays are located near amenities in order for people with disabilities to access; work, education, the post office, shops, the bank and social events. There is no excuse for using an accessible parking bay without a disability parking permit. IWA members have heard many different excuses. We want to highlight to all drivers throughout Galway city that this is not acceptable.”
The organisations involved in the “Back in 5” campaign remind motorists that it is an offence to park in a disabled parking space without an official Disabled Drivers Parking Permit.
The offence is dealt with by way of a fixed charge notice of €80, rising to €120 if not paid in the first 28 days. Alongside this, the misuse of an accessible parking bay can have a significant impact on a driver with a disability who needs to access the space, according to Mr Maher.
For further information about the range of services and supports IWA provides to people with physical disabilities in their homes and communities call (091 ) 771552 or email [email protected]
Irish Wheelchair Association advocates for people with physical disabilities and provides services and support to more than 20,000 members in their homes and communities throughout Ireland every year.
“Everything we do is driven by the IWA’s vision of an Ireland where people with disabilities can enjoy equal rights, choices, and opportunities and live their lives independently,” stressed Mr Maher.