‘We want independence’: Wheelchair users protest over access at Dart stations

‘Daily disruptions’ restrict transport access for people with disabilities

There are “daily disruptions” to lifts at Dart stations, wheelchair users have said, as they protested over the lack of reliability and accessibility on public transport in Dublin on Friday.

About 30 people attended the protest outside Clontarf Road Dart station, which was organised by the Access for All campaign group.

Bernard Mulvaney, co-founder of the disability advocacy group, attended the protest with his daughter Sophia (12), who is a wheelchair user.

“We got a commitment in the Programme for Government three years ago that they were going to upgrade the lifts [at rail stations]. We thought we had a victory but those lifts that have been upgraded have begun to fail already,” Mr Mulvaney said.


“Malahide [Dart station lift] was out for nearly a month, Clontarf has been out for weeks ... the information online is very disjointed, we can’t trust it.

“We also met with some Irish Rail workers, they have a big problem with people with disabilities contacting them saying they want to travel on a particular day and time. They are so undermanned. They have had to ask people to postpone their journey for two or three hours so they can be there to help the people on and off. There are staffing issues in the stations.”

Sean O’Kelly, who is a wheelchair user, said lifts at rail stations were out of order “every single day”.

“There isn’t a day that goes by when there isn’t a lift out of order at Dart stations. That infringes on our independence and that is what we want: independence. We want independence like every other person,” he said.

“We feel like when there are these barriers in place, we are second-class citizens in our own country. We shouldn’t feel like that in 2022 Ireland.”

Kayleigh McKevitt (28), also a wheelchair user, said “we are always thought of last” instead of being viewed as “equals” in society.

“I don’t want other young people with disabilities still in this position in 10 or 20 years from now,” she said.

“Our lives shouldn’t be subjected to availability, we should be able to have the freedom and access [to public transport] that everyone else has.”

In a statement Irish Rail said any issue with lift availability was “regretted”.

“Our lift investment programme since 2020 has seen a significant improvement in lift availability, after an extended period of underinvestment,” it said.

“Where faults arise due to vandalism or other issues, the vast majority of lifts are returned to service within hours of the issue being reported, and we work to ensure that information is kept up to date.”

The company said it would continue to invest in its lifts and that 15 stations would have lift replacement or modernisation works this year.

“A further 16 stations will see the ‘lift call’ system installed, a monitored access system which has been successful in reducing instances of vandalism,” it said.

“This is the third year of a five-year programme which will see lifts replaced or upgraded in more than 50 stations.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times