County Mayor: We need national day to raise disability awareness

County Mayor: We need national day to raise disability awareness

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy, in County Hall at the launch of Make Way Day, which takes place on September 26 and aims to create greater public awareness of the obstacles people with disabilities encounter navigating the public spaces we all share. Also included are Áine O’Sullivan, of the Disability Federation of Ireland, left and Siobhán Morgan, Cork County Council access officer. Picture: David Keane

COUNTY Mayor Patrick Gerard Murphy is calling on the Government to establish a national day for disability awareness.

Cork County Council will join 15 other local authorities on Make Way Day on September 26 in a campaign for the rights of people with disabilities.

The day will focus on recognising the right of people with disabilities to enjoy the same public spaces as able people and acknowledging the obstacles which people with disabilities face daily, including badly parked vehicles and bicycles, billboards, overgrown hedges and other ill-placed hazards.

Mayor Murphy, who has been in a wheelchair since the early 1990s, has worked with the Centre for Independent Living in Limerick and the National Learning Network in Bantry, who deliver QQI certified training programmes for people with disabilities. On election in June, he said: “I have worked in disability for years and I will bring my own slant to that. It’s important that our regional towns are as mobility friendly as possible.”

Cork County Council will now write to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and each minister asking them to support, establish, fund and resource an annual national Make Way Day which would be localised to each region.

Since the campaign was launched, disability campaigners have been putting stickers on cars, bins and sandwich boards each year in a bid to educate the public on the obstacles faced by people with disabilities. More than 11,000 people have signed a petition calling for Government support.

The Disability Federation of Ireland said: “If we can raise awareness of the need to remove physical barriers to participation, we are demonstrating our commitment to creating a more equal society for people with disabilities. By making small changes we can make a big difference to the lives of our fellow citizens.

“A national Make Way Day will raise awareness of the need to consider how everyday actions impact the lives of people with disabilities. It will send a strong message that we don’t want our villages, towns and cities to be obstacle courses for family, friends and neighbours with disabilities. We want them to be warm, welcoming and inclusive.”

Cork city, Dublin, Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown, Fingal, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Offaly, South Dublin, Wexford and Wicklow councils support the campaign.

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