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Today is D-day for all public buildings to be made accessible for those with disabilities

But have all our public buildings made the deadline?

5244819788_3da320b6e3_o Source: Keoni Cabral

TODAY MARKS THE deadline for all public buildings in Ireland to be made fully accessible for those with disabilities.

31 December, 2015 marks the final deadline for the implementation of section 25 of the Disability Act 2005.

This section provides that all public buildings as at 31 December 2005 must be brought into compliance with Part M of the 1997 Building Regulations by today’s date. The regulations also apply immediately to all new buildings also.

“This is an important milestone for people with disabilities,”” said Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the equality minister.

Access to public buildings is an important human right of every person in our society.

Currently, the National Disability Authority is in the process of formulating a new Disability Inclusion Strategy for Ireland. The final phase of this process is set to commence early in the New Year.

“We have an opportunity for the first time in many years now to address the issues of concern to people with disabilities in a sustained way,” said Ó Ríordáin.

While the deadline for the provision of disability-access may be today, quite how compliant Irish public buildings are with the legislation is not yet clear.

2/10/2015. Governments Disability Strategies Aodháin Ó Ríordáin Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Disempowered

In October of this year Gorey Garda Station in Co Wexford was overlooked for inclusion in a programme of refurbishment of stations across the country. At that time the station had no disabled access.

In an opinion piece for TheJournal.ie at the start of December Vivian Rath described how he had been forced to conduct business at Gorey station from his mobility scooter on the street outside only a few weeks prior.

“I sat in the cold until a passer-by kindly went in and informed the Garda in charge, who in turn explained to me that the station was inaccessible,” Vivian wrote.

My private Garda business was thus conducted in the waning light of a dreary October evening on the main street.
I wrote to the Superintendent and received only an acknowledgement but no answers. I had become disempowered.

Read: ‘I had no choice but to sit in the cold and conduct my private garda business on the street’

Read: ‘It’s not beyond anyone’ – Kelly Gallagher on why others with disabilities can dream of gold medals

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