Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has urged the government to commit to improving public transport for people with disabilities, in order to put an end to the ongoing discrimination experienced by disabled passengers.
She was speaking during a Sinn Féin Private Members bill which called on the government to to undertake the ratification of the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities so that no longer will people with disabilities be denied access to the key mechanism for address and redress of the denial of their rights under the Convention.
Deputy Munster said:
“The government previously gave a commitment to ratify both the Convention and the Optional Protocol. They have now reneged on ratifying the Optional Protocol, which gives people with disabilities access to the mechanism for the redress of the denial of their rights under the Convention”.
“There are over 650,000 people in this state living with a disability. Most of this number rely on public transport to access work, healthcare and social and community activities”.
“Currently disabled people travelling on coaches or trains have to plan journeys days in advance. They have to deal with unmanned train stations, bus stops that are unsuitable for ramps and lifts and coaches which are inaccessible due to stairs.”
“It is unacceptable that prior notice for travel is still required.”
“These problems are easily remedied, but that requires political will and funding from government”.
“At my constituency clinics in Louth and East Meath I regularly deal with cases where people are left at the side of the road, or on platforms, because transport providers let them down. It’s humiliating for the people involved, but it’s the state and the NTA who should be ashamed of themselves”.
“This has been described by disability activists as a form of apartheid. There is a separation of rights, and disabled people have been left out in the cold”.
“The government claims it is in favour of people with disabilities having equal access to work and participation. If they are serious about this they need to prove that by addressing the ongoing issues that are currently having a detrimental effect on the day to day lives of people with disabilities”.