Beach wheelchairs lie unused at Cork beach as there is nowhere to store them

Despite appeals from local independent councillor Paul Hayes, who is currently storing the wheelchairs in his garage, officials from Cork County Council will not allow a wheelchair to be stored in the lifeguard’s hut at the beach overnight.
Beach wheelchairs lie unused at Cork beach as there is nowhere to store them

The Hippo Campe beach wheelchair is available at the Warren Beach in Rosscarbery but two wheelchairs in Clonakilty cannot be used due to storage issues.

TWO beach wheelchairs purchased thanks to a community fundraising drive last year have not been used since they were bought because there is nowhere available to store them securely overnight.

Clonakilty Camogie Club raised more than €5,000 in an online fundraising effort in 2021 to provide the wheelchairs to enable better access to Inchydoney Beach in West Cork for people with disabilities. The appeal was launched following the successful introduction of a beach wheelchair at the nearby Warren Beach in Rosscarbery.

Despite appeals from local independent councillor Paul Hayes, who is currently storing the wheelchairs in his garage, officials from Cork County Council will not allow a wheelchair to be stored in the lifeguard’s hut at the beach overnight.

Cllr Hayes said: “All I am proposing at Inchydoney is that we have a similar setup as in Rosscarbery which seems to be working very well. The Inchydoney Lodge & Spa have kindly agreed to look after the booking out process.” 

According to Cork County Council planning permission would be required for a storage unit for the wheelchairs at Inchydoney and they are not willing to allow a single wheelchair to be stored in the lifeguard’s hut at the beach overnight.

Evie Evans, vice chairperson of the Clonakilty Access Group, who is a wheelchair user herself, said that the group has raised the issue on several occasions.

“Unfortunately this is nothing new. We have a similar situation with access for the local playground where keys are needed and staff often aren’t there. These beach wheelchairs are available in many other places around Europe and there is no complicated system of bookings required.”

BARRIERS TO USAGE

A spokesperson for Cork County said that there are a number of matters that needed to be satisfactorily addressed before the beach wheelchair could be operated.

They said that the topography would need to be suitable, local volunteers would need to be suitably trained and willing to commit to being available to provide onsite support and the wheelchair would need to be a suitable type for the location.

They added that a booking system to allow users to book in advance was also a requirement as were suitable storage facilities “with controlled access for signing in and out of the chair” as well as appropriate insurance cover for the location, attendants and users.

They added: “Cork County Council is in the process of commissioning a report for five beaches on beach access for people with limited movement. This should identify the current limitations and what improvements can be put in place to increase access.”

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