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New Fine Gael senator Nikki Bradley with Taoiseach Simon Harris today.
nikki bradley

New senator says misuse of disabled toilets must end with roll out of access keys

Bradley says there are lots of things that could make the lives of people with disabilities easier.

FINE GAEL’S NEW senator has said that she would like to see access keys rolled out to stop the misuse of disabled toilets. 

Motivational speaker and disability advocate Nikki Bradley has been appointed to the Seanad to replace Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty who has been elected to the European Parliament.

Taoiseach Simon Harris said has been in awe of the work Bradley has done over the years as a disability advocate, telling reporters today that he wants to be advised and informed on disability matters by people who have the real lived experiences. 

Bradley was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer at 16. 

She has survived multiple surgeries, including a tumour removal, two hip replacements, a femur repair and an amputation.

When asked by The Journal what are some of the issues she would like to tackle first in her new role, she said there are lots of things that could make the lives of people with disabilities easier. 


One thing that could make daily life easier is stopping the misuse of disability toilets with the introduction of a universal access key that would ensure that only people with a disability and with the key can access facilities.

The National Key Scheme in the UK offers disabled people independent access to locked public toilets around the country, according to Disability Rights UK group. 

The group states that the keys are sold to people who require use of the toilet facilities due to their disability or health condition. 

The keys can be used in around 10,000 disabled toilets across the UK. The keys are used by some 400 local authorities to allow disabled people access to locked, accessible toilets. 

Harris Bradley-1_90709272

Driving is another area she would like to see prioritised for those with a disability.

Hailing from Donegal, she said the ability to able to get around independently is hugely important, stating that she wants to work with transport bodies to help encourage people to get behind the wheel themselves. 

The independence be able to drive yourself without having to rely on others, that might not see like much in the grand scheme of things”, but Bradley said it can be the biggest deal for some individuals that can’t. 

Speaking about her own personal experience after her surgery, she said she had to wait eight months to be able to drive herself. 

“It was the longest eight months of my life,” she said. 

Bradley has previously spoken about getting her car adapted for her prosthetic, was like “starting my new life again”. 

Harris said he wants to prioritise the roll out of a new disability strategy by government, and wants to see Ireland opt in to the optional protocol on the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. 

Asked if she will would like to contest the next general election in Donegal, she said “never say never”, but for now, she wanted to focus on her new job in the Seanad. 

When asked about the issue of defective concrete blocks, a huge political issue in her home county, Bradley said it is “definitely an area” she would like to focus on. 

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