THE new Fáilte Ireland building on Patrick Street in Cork is completely inaccessible to people with disabilities, according to the Disability Officer for Cork City Partnership.
Fáilte Ireland recently took possession of their new recently refurbished Cork office at the top of Patrick Street.
The Cork Access Group which has a role in monitoring the built environment on behalf of people with disabilities highlighted that even basic standards have not been applied in terms of making the building accessible for wheelchair users and those with mobility problems.
“The recently opened building had been completely refurbished from the roof down over many months and the most fundamental requirement of a ramp at the front door was not installed, making it completely inaccessible for wheelchair users,” said disability officer, Donie O’Leary.
“People with disabilities are shocked that a government-funded office was rebuilt and no attention was paid to the needs of disabled people.
“The Cork Access Group would remind Fáilte Ireland that disabled people do actually try to take holidays and would like to gain entry to their Cork office to make enquiries in that regard,” he added.
Mr O’Leary also highlighted the lack of aids for those with visual and hearing impairments.
“What message is this sending to overseas visitors with a disability?” he asked.
“Not providing wheelchair access is a complete breach of Part M of the Government Building Regulations.
“It also raises the question as to who actually signed off on this building and where is the Disability Access Certificate (DAC) which is now a legal requirement?” he added.
The Irish government signed up to the United Nations Convention on the rights of people with disabilities (UNCRPD) in March of this year. “Questions must be asked as to why Fáilte Ireland was not made aware of this and what about the required building inspection which Cork City Council is required to carry out to ensure wheelchair access was provided.
“It is ironic that Fáilte Ireland translates to Welcome Ireland but for people with disabilities there is no welcome for local or visitors with disabilities in their Cork office,” he added.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council said: “The Building Control Department will follow up on Part M (access and use) compliance with the building owners and designers involved.”
Responding to the Cork Access Group, Fáilte Ireland said a number of works were carried to the building before it opened to ensure the centre provided access for all.
"These works included a mobile ramp, and training for all staff to ensure they can proactively offer and operate it for all visitor," spokesperson said.
"Additional works include an accessible pod/desk inside the door which has been designed to ensure those accessing via the ramp can be served immediately on entering the premises. A sign was also erected on the outside of the entrance door pointing to a bell that can be rang for assistance from outside and in addition to this the door itself is electronic and will open on touch."
"Providing access for all is a priority for Fáilte Ireland and they are currently working with Cork City Council to identify any additional measures that need to be taken to enhance accessibility."