CORK County Councillors have called for the introduction of beach wheelchairs to improve accessibility on beaches across the county.
Cllr Danielle Twomey requested that Cork County Council provide all-terrain beach wheelchairs at all blue flag lifeguarded beaches within the county.
Her motion received unanimous support at the recent Cork County Council meeting.
“In a time where we are now appreciating our public area amenities and beaches, even more, it’s important that the greatest effort is made to make these areas accessible to all,” she said.
While some beaches were found to be unsuitable for such chairs, Cllr Twomey asked that the Council look at an adapted version of the current chairs.
She said the all-terrain chair provides access to swimming, can be adapted to a kayak and can be immersed in water.
“This chair allows for our visitors with special needs to access the beach and enjoy it in the same way that many able-bodied visitors do.”
She asked that Council conduct a feasibility study of the all-terrain chairs for the beaches that have been deemed to have suitable lifeguard stations and were deemed unsuitable due to the terrain.
Cllr Paul Hayes seconded the motion and said that the only current beach wheelchair available at the Warren is “a huge success”.
Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan described it as an opportunity for Cork County Council “to lead the way in disability inclusion in County Cork”.
“I think this would be a brilliant project for the executive and the elected members to get behind.”
Cllr Mary Linehan Foley suggested an amendment to ensure that any beaches that were found unsuited to the wheelchair, implement a wheelchair mat.
Niall Healy, Director of Service, Municipal District Operations and Rural Development said that a number of matters need to be addressed in order for a proposed beach wheelchair facility to be capable of being operated such as a booking system, suitable storage and a partnership with a locally based volunteer organization to provide assistance to users.
Chief Executive Tim Lucey said the Council are keen to do a lot more to create accessibility for all.
He said they are putting in an application for the next round of the Outdoor Recreation Improvement Scheme which would allow the council to look at accessibility to beaches.