Last week Mayo County Council received an award from the National Disability Authority (NDA ) recognising the excellent level of achievement reached by Ballina Civic Offices in integrating accessibility into the provision of services to the public.
However, this week Sinn Féin election candidate, Thérèse Ruane, has highlighted the fact that Castlebar Town Council meetings continue to take place in an inaccessible venue. A motion put forward by Cllr Ruane, that meetings take place in an accessible venue, was voted down by seven votes to two at a recent meeting. Cllr Harry Barrett was the only councillor to support the motion, with the remaining councillors voting against it, ensuring future meetings of Castlebar Town Council continue to take place in a venue that is inaccessible to people with reduced mobility. Cllr Ruane insists that this is discriminatory to people with disabilities and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“Well done to Ballina Civic Offices for winning this award,” Cllr Ruane said. “Unfortunately, Castlebar Town Council offices at Marsh House continues to exclude people with reduced mobility from its meetings. When I put forward a motion to address this, I must say I was shocked and very disappointed at the response of the councillors in Castlebar Town Council, who spoke about the spiritual and traditional place that Marsh House is. However, the bottom line is it is not an accessible venue. They also cited the fact that they have always been accommodating, obliging, and facilitated any groups that want to attend meetings and will continue to in the future. One councillor suggested that we put on the council website, that groups or individuals will be facilitated to attend council meetings.
“People with a disability don't want to be obliged, accommodated or facilitated. I thought that this kind of mentality had been consigned to history. What people want is equality, to have the same access as everyone else.”
According to the general election hopeful in Ireland, one in 10 people are living with a disability; people have to continually battle to uphold their basic human rights and dignity. “Our councils, as public democratic bodies, should be accountable, transparent and accessible to all.
“As a town council, we have an obligation to the public to uphold these principles. The fact that people with reduced mobility are excluded from Castlebar Town Council meetings is not acceptable. It is discriminatory practice and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”