Ireland’s disabled and mobility-impaired community are fed up with Irish Rail’s lifts being ‘out of order’. It’s time public transport was accessible to all
Do you use Irish Rail? Rather, do you have access to Irish Rail?
As someone who uses the Dart service regularly, I can confirm there is always at least one (usually more than one) lift 'out of order' on any given day. It's unacceptable and the Irish disabled community have had enough.
On Monday morning, organisers behind the Access for All Ireland Facebook page passed out information leaflets at a Dublin station to highlight the inaccessibility.
The leaflets read, "Get the lifts working! We need inclusive public transport". They also list a number of demands for the transport minister Shane Ross; including:
– Lifts to be upgraded and old infrastructure replaced
– Reinstatement of platform attendants to offer security and assistance to the disabled and mobility impaired community
– The removal of the current discriminatory practice where our disable and mobility-impaired community are required to give prior notice to travel on Irish Rail. Those in Dublin using the Dart are required to give a minimum of four hours notice, while those in the rest of the country are required to give 24 hours notice in advance of travel.
According to Access for All Ireland, there were "400 leaflets handed out this morning and a great response from people using the Dart.
"Everyone agrees the consistent 'out of order' lifts are linked to underfunding and the apathy towards our disabled community and their ability to travel – and that it would not be tolerated by any other group in our society.
"We’ve had enough," they said, "we want our equality. We want access for all".
'We need investment'
Speaking to IMAGE.ie, Bernard Mulvaney at Access for All Ireland said, "What’s nicer on a summer's day than a trip on the Dart to one of our beautiful seaside villages like Howth or Dun Laoghaire? The Dart is one of the best and most frequent forms of public transport available – just as long as you're not a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues.
"Frequently we find stations inaccessible due to the fact that the lifts are out of order and it can take weeks to have them back in service. Time and again we arrive at a station to find the lifts not working and therefore we have to abandon our journey," he says.
"We are aware that things breakdown sometimes, but to consistently have seven to nine stations' lifts out of order is just not good enough anymore"
"We hear the same excuses constantly. In fact, these excuses have not changed since we first heard them back in 2015; hard-to-source parts; old, unreliable technology; and their favourite one: antisocial behaviour.
"We are aware that things breakdown sometimes," Bernard says, "but to consistently have seven to nine stations' lifts out of order is just not good enough anymore. As for antisocial behaviour, if we had platform attendants reinstated we would see less of this behaviour while offering security to our vulnerable elderly and disabled community.
"We need to see investment in the infrastructure, new up-to-date lifts like they have in London and Japan that take hundreds of thousands of people every day with very little disruption.
"If we are serious about the environmental crisis that faces us, then such things like a functioning public transport network is vital to help us leave our cars at home.
"We in the disabled community want to be part of that movement. We want to use public transport. We want to use the Dart. But if the lifts don’t work we are left with no option but to stay at home or use the car.
"It’s wholly unfair and we’ve had enough. We want our Dart to be inclusive and accessible. Access For All will continue to campaign for working, accessible lifts in our Dart station’s until the government listens and finally addresses the issue."
Support Access for All Ireland by following them on social media here.
Photo: Access for All Ireland
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