A SOCIAL Democrat candidate from west Cork has said the lack of access to bus routes in the area is having a serious impact on the lives of people with disabilities.
Evie Nevin has praised her hometown of Clonakilty for being more inclusive for families affected by autism but is calling for further efforts throughout west Cork.
“It is not just a disease or a disorder that disables people,” she said.
“Society disables us.”
The mother of two lives with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The condition is a rare disease which affects the connective tissue, and her two children are also affected. As a result of the condition, Ms Nevin sometimes uses a wheelchair to get around.
“I wasn’t always mobility impaired and like so many people, I never thought I would be,” she said.
“Disability or impairments can happen so quickly through illness or an accident. Disability does not discriminate.”
The CSO shows that of the 11,000 living with disabilities in west Cork, almost 5,000 have difficulty with activities such as climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying.
As reported in the Evening Echo last month, a number of bus routes in west Cork are not wheelchair accessible, restricting the lives and options of wheelchair users in the area.
“I have been in touch with Bus Éireann and Cork County Council about this issue,” Ms Nevin said.
“Bus Éireann tells me they cannot provide accessible buses until the bus stops are in the right condition. The 236 and 237 are the main bus routes for West Cork. There are accessible stops in Skibbereen but they are of no use unless the actual vehicle is accessible.
“It also makes many travel cards obsolete if a person with a disability can’t access public transport.
“West Cork is a beautiful place with a lot to offer and it should be accessible to all residents.”
She is calling for access to be improved and pointed out that accessibility issues also affect people who may be interested in visiting the area.
“We also must remember that West Cork is a popular tourist destination and we are not allowing a pretty substantial portion of society to come and visit,” she said.
Ms Nevin said similar difficulties affect older member of society and said she plans to campaign to make West Cork age and disability friendly. Initiatives that she favours include installing more automatic doors, ramps, levelling and decluttering of footpaths, crossings for the blind, local interpreters, looping systems and disabled bathrooms that have hoists for older children.