Wheelchair taxi void means family spend 'whole week firefighting'

Wheelchair taxi void means family spend 'whole week firefighting'
Caption: Twins Ronan and Cillian O'Connor, whose mum Evelyn is experiencing delays in accessing a wheelchair taxi for them to get to school.

A CORK mother-of-four has called for an end to delays in accessing a wheelchair taxi to assist her in getting her twin boys school every day.

Evelyn O’Connor’s sons are wheelchair users and attend Saint Paul’s Special School in Montenotte.

She also has two older sons attending school in Bishopstown, making mornings a logistical nightmare.

The mother-of-four said an accessible taxi had been sanctioned for her sons Ronan and Cillian in June 2018, more than two months after applying for the service.

Now, eight months on, Evelyn said her sons are still waiting for the service.

“We were initially told Bus Éireann couldn’t find a taxi for two wheelchairs,” Evelyn told The Echo. “In January we were told they had found a vehicle but were still waiting for a bus escort. I’ve heard nothing since.”

As a result Evelyn said the school run now takes an average of two hours each morning.

“I go through my whole week firefighting,” she said. “The sheer traffic some days is overwhelming.

“It takes a lot of time to get the twins ready. Ronan and Cillian are still taking bottles and require help with everything.

“They are very happy, placid little boys but they’re also very hands-on.”

Evelyn spends a lot of her time, outside of school hours, driving the twins to medical appointments.

“Because the boys are non-verbal they can’t tell us what is wrong, which means we have to be vigilant about keeping appointments,” she said. “These can range from things like speech and language therapy to occupational therapy and neurology.”

The mother-of-four said she was disappointed to have to go public with the issue.

“We’ve given up on asking about the delay,” she said. “The reply is always ‘we are looking into it’. It is a disgrace that you have to go public to get anything done.”

Evelyn explained how the situation is affecting quality time with her children.

“A lot of the things that should be getting done in the morning end up having to be done in the evening now,” she said. “I can’t grab much time to spend with my older boys.

“Any chat about their day and relaxing time with them is packed into five minutes before bedtime.”

She described the twins’ school as excellent and added: “I could never change their school because of the transport situation but I can’t see myself facing into another year of traffic and firefighting.”

She reiterates the positive impact the taxi service would have on her family.

“If I could even get transport in the morning I would be blessed. It would make a huge difference to our lives.”

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