Disability services – where is the outcry?

Legislative protections

Sir, – As an amputee, I welcome Pádraig O’Moráin’s piece “Why no outcry about defects in disability services” (Health + Family, June 6th). It poses a question I have asked myself many times since the amputation of my right leg above the knee in 2012, as a result of which I am a wheelchair user.

I would suggest the situation demands that disabled people be given parity of esteem with other disadvantaged minorities and given the same legislative protections. This would require extensive legislative measures relating to public transport, food and drink establishments and places of entertainment. It would also require financial measures to ensure that no person would, directly or indirectly, incur any financial liability to the State as a result of disability, as happened in my case.

In the case of food and drink establishments, legislation would need to be updated as the current farcical situation whereby premises that were inaccessible prior to the current legislation can remain so in perpetuity is no longer acceptable. A time limit should be set for the upgrading of premises to render them fully accessible. Where this is impossible due to the age of the building, the management would be obliged to provide such as makeshift ramps and assistance in using them. Any failure to comply or to facilitate entry should constitute constructive refusal of admission with the same implications as direct refusal to a member of any minority group on the basis of such membership.

The obligations of the hospitality industry should also extend to accessible toilet facilities. Every establishment should be required to provide clean, well maintained and fully usable facilities, and not just in the context of a general upgrade of facilities as at present. These should be for the exclusive use of disabled people. Disabled people, regardless of gender, generally need to sit on the toilet seat and should not have to endure the aftermath of the visit of the typical Irish male with his propensity not to lift toilet seats when discharging his business.


As regards parity of esteem, the media have a role to play here. Restaurant critics should be encouraged to regard inaccessibility as equivalent to denial of admission to any minority. – Yours, etc,



Co Louth.