CORK county councillors have called for the introduction of beach wheelchairs to improve accessibility on beaches.
Cllr Danielle Twomey requested that the council provide all-terrain beach wheelchairs at all blue flag lifeguarded beaches within the county.
Her motion received unanimous support at the recent 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 the all-terrain chair provides access to swimming, can be adapted to a kayak and can be immersed in water, allowing visitors with special needs to access the beach “and enjoy it in the same way that many able-bodied visitors do”.
She also asked that the Council conduct a feasibility study of the all-terrain chairs for beaches deemed unsuitable for their use 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 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 organisation to provide assistance to users.
Chief executive Tim Lucey said the council is 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.