63 polling stations lack wheelchair access, says disability advocate

63 polling stations lack wheelchair access, says disability advocate

A disability advocate has described to lack of access for wheelchair users in 63 polling stations around the country as “apartheid in another form.”

Ciarán Delaney, who conducted a survey of accessibility of polling stations, found that 18 in Limerick, 16 in Donegal and 10 in Kerry were inaccessible.

There is a legal obligation under the United Nations Convention on rights of the disabled, which Ireland recently ratified, to ensure that everyone has ease of access to vote, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

“There is no excuse in 2020. This is something that has been obvious for some time.

"It should not be beyond the ability of returning officers to make polling stations accessible.”

Mr Delaney pointed out that during the recent election in the UK portacabins with wheelchair ramps were used at polling stations where necessary to allow access for wheelchair users.

“This is something that has been flagged by local councillors.”

At present if a wheelchair user turns up to vote and finds the polling station inaccessible they have to speak to the returning officer and then “toddle off” to another, accessible polling station, explained Mr Delaney.

This was the same as telling members of other minority groups that they could not enter a polling station.

“It is apartheid in another form.”

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