Visually impaired people oppose closure of NCBI resource centre

According to NCBI, the closure of the Dún Laoghaire premises, which opened in 2004, has not been confirmed

Gelda Archer (75) suffers from the genetic vision disorder Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and travels about 20 minutes from her home in Dalkey to the National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI) Resource Centre in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, several times each week.

Aside from her guide dog, Archer says the clinic – whose aides provide meditation sessions, technology assistance and book clubs – has been her saving grace over the years.

“Everyone here is top class,” Archer said. “I find it absolutely essential to have this service. They’re like a big family to me.”

Flanked by her three-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador retriever outside the clinic, Archer was one of several community members protesting against the proposed closure of the branch on Friday afternoon.


A potential closure of the centre would force Archer and many others to travel to their next closest NCBI branch for the same services, increasing commutes in some cases by more than an hour each way.

“It will not be possible for me,” Archer said. “I’m 75 now. . .Travelling to Tallaght would take up the whole day.”

Michael Griffith (73), who also suffers from RP, has not been able to drive since 2001 and lost his ability to read four years ago.

Griffith, who has attended NCBI’s Dún Laoghaire branch for five years, leads a weekly mindfulness session at the clinic and organised the protest after hearing about the proposed closure.

“When I saw the shock and the hurt that some of the people felt when NCBI decided to close down the office, I knew we had to do everything we can to try and stop it,” Griffith said.

“There are an infinite number of these very small things that visually impaired people find it so difficult to cope with. . . It’s a shocking pity that the top management don’t have the attitude that the staff have here.”

On hand at the protest was Richard Boyd Barrett (TD), who heard about the proposed closure from Griffith earlier this week and has been appealing to the NCBI since, citing the hundreds of people in South Dublin who would be negatively affected by the loss of its services.

According to Griffith, the community has been told there are not enough users for the clinic to stay in business, but he questions the validity of those claims.

“We are still trying to get the facts on that,” Barrett said. “Even still, travelling to Tallaght from Dún Laoghaire would take you an entire day with a long, meandering bus service. . .We are going to fight tooth and nail along with the community to ensure this office stays open.”

According to a spokesperson from NCBI, a closure of the Dún Laoghaire premises, which opened in 2004, has not been confirmed.

The group will meet representatives of the Health Services Executive next week to discuss the future of the branch.