A group of people with disabilities met in Ennis last week to highlight the inaccessibility of the country’s transport network. Supporting the meeting with his presence was independent Clare deputy Dr Michael Harty.

According to Dermot Hayes, a spokesman for the group, the government had finally agreed this year to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. Mr Hayes noted that 25 years after the introduction of independent living in Ireland, little progress has been made for people with disabilities who are severely restricted by an outdated and inaccessible transport network.

On Friday last, the Clare Leader Forum organised a meeting including people with disabilities to shine a light on this vexed issue. Dermot Hayes told the meeting that, “Equality for all, when it comes to accessing publicly funded accessible transport, is an issue for many people in county Clare and beyond.

“Because of our limited income, people with disabilities cannot continually afford to access private transport. Therefore we are very reliant on public services. The truth is that public transport is far from adequate”.

Chairperson of the Clare Leader Forum, Padraic Hayes, has called on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to “help ease the isolation and loneliness people with disabilities are experiencing daily.” According to Padraic Hayes, “people have become prisoners in their own homes and the state has an obligation to address this”.

While the Forum recognises that some progress has been made over the last 25 years, he said that major improvements must still be made. “For this to happen, the Government needs to listen to the issues people are experiencing. The reality is that getting out of home independently of one’s family is very difficult as is meeting up with friends, looking for a job or socialising.”