DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DISABLED

 

Sir, - We are a group of researchers working for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland (Western Regional Office). We fully agree with the opinions about the poor planning of Galway city expressed in the letter from Moya Cannon and Eva Bourke (Reality of the Boom, June 12th).

They say that "Galway is fast becoming a city which is inhospitable to its own citizens However, there is one group of people to which Galway has always been inhospitable people with disabilities.

We have been carrying out an accessibility study of premises such as pubs, cafes, hotels etc in Galway city and county. The main aim of the study is to find out how accessible these buildings are to people with MS and other disabilities, especially wheelchair users, and to publish a guide of accessible premises. Based on the results of the survey to date, the guide is going to be very small indeed.

We were shocked to find that the majority of premises built or substantially altered since 1991 are either not at all accessible to people with disabilities or have completely inadequate facilities. This is a complete flouting of Part M of the Building Regulations (1991) Technical Guidance Document issued by the Department of the Environment.

We were even more shocked to find out that Galway Corporation - which has told us that it is the enforcement agency has failed to appoint an enforcement officer, leaving it up to developers to regulate themselves and placing the onus on the general public to report buildings that do not comply with the regulations.

Despite intensive lobbying for the past months of Galway city councillors, Mayor John Mulholland and the Galway City Manager, Joe Gavin, we have yet to receive confirmation that such an official has been or will be appointed.

In fact, our mayor, who is supposed to represent all of Galway's citizens, has not taken the time to even acknowledge our letters.

We urge the incoming government and Minister for the Environment to ensure that all local authorities have sufficient resources to enable them to provide adequate training and skills for existing staff members and for the appointment of sufficient full time enforcement officers.

If anyone in Galway city knows of any premises which contravene the regulations we urge them to write to Joe Gavin, City Manager, City Hall, College Road, Galway, as he has assured us that he will take appropriate action".

Yours, etc.,

Dominick Street,

Galway.