Lack of wheelchair access to Dart line ‘shameful’ - Boyd Barrett

People Before Profit call for investment to fix lifts and staff all stations along Dart line

Difficulties people with disabilities have in accessing the Dart and other public transport was "absolutely shameful", Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit has said.

The party called for all Irish Rail stations to be made fully accessible to people with disabilities, with increased funding to ensure all lifts worked and all stations had staff to assist wheelchair-users on and off trains with ramps.

Speaking outside Clontarf Dart station in north Dublin, one of several stations where wheelchair users must use a lift to access the platform, Mr Boyd Barrett said the lifts in up to ten stations along the rail line could be "not functioning" on a given day.

The Government’s commitment to equality for people with disabilities was “lip service” without adequate funding being put into services to ensure equal access, he said.


“It is absolutely shameful that people in wheelchairs cannot do what you and I can do which is to decide they want to go to a particular part of Dublin via the Dart at short notice, that’s what freedom and independence means,” Mr Boyd Barrett said.

Another recurring problem for wheelchair users with public transport was ramps on buses not working, he said.

“If there is any technical problem with a bus in terms of its lights, its engine, usually it wouldn’t be allowed out of the garage, but when it comes to ramps to ensure disability access they seem quite happy to send buses out even though those ramps aren’t functioning,” Mr Boyd Barrett said.

Bernard Mulvany, PBP general election candidate in Dublin Bay North, whose young daughter is a wheelchair user, said the public transport network was "not fit for purpose" for people with disabilities.

“The lines are ageing, the lifts are decrepit, some of them are 20-years-old and they’re just not fit for purpose,” he said.

Sean O’Kelly (27) a wheelchair user and disability campaigner, said on occasions he had been left “stranded” on Dart stations for up to half an hour as the lift was not working.

n other cases he had to be helped off the Dart by the driver, as despite him giving notice there was no Irish Rail staff member available at the station, he said.

Mr O’Kelly said wheelchair users using the Dart constantly had “the feeling of uncertainty of will there be someone there” to assist them getting off the train with a ramp, he said.

Often wheelchair users were made to feel like “second class citizens” when trying to access public transport, he said.

A spokesman for Irish Rail said the company was carrying out works on several lifts which have “experienced issues with recurring faults and misuse.”

The rail service needed a more significant set of works to replace older lifts, which was now on the agenda following increased State funding, he said.

“We can again fund lift renewals and accessibility upgrades which were underfunded since the economic crisis, this will see new and more durable units installed,” the spokesman said.

In a statement Dublin Bus said it is committed to providing an “accessible service for all of our customers” and its fleet was 100 per cent wheelchair accessible. More than 600 new buses put on the road since 2010 had both a designated wheelchair space and a space for buggies, the statement said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times