Iarnród Éireann and two government ministers are working together to improve access to public transport for people who have physical disabilities.
People with disabilities have been left abandoned at stations, either because there was no ramp or staff member to assist them in boarding trains.
“The issue that is coming up regularly from people’s with physical disabilities and acquired brain injuries, that this system of not enough ramps at DART stations and train stations, also that you have to ring up the night before and see if there is a staff member on, that, to me, has to change,” said Finian McGrath, Minister of State for Disabilities.
The minister described access to transport as a basic human right and said that people’s inability to access it was “unacceptable”.
“The simple, basic human right of a person with a physical disability having to ring up the station the night before to book your train or book your slot on the bus, for a simple thing like a ramp...
“Things like that, they are not acceptable. We wouldn’t accept them, I wouldn’t accept them, so why would a person with an acquired brain injury accept them? It’s not a runner,” he said.
The minister will be launching his National Inclusion Disability Strategy in two weeks’ time and transport access is a major tenet of it.
Mr McGrath was speaking at an event hosted by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABII), yesterday, where the first ever research into the experiences in Ireland of people with brain injuries was discussed.
The research found that there is an “over-reliance” on families to provide care for people with an acquired brain injury (ABI).
It also highlighted that access to professional rehabilitation services is critical for recovery.
Report co-author, Dr Stephen Walsh, said recovery from ABI is linked to properly resourced care.
“Given the very different short-, medium-, and long-term needs of those affected by ABI, there is a need for a range of health services and supports for both the individual with ABI and their families.
“Optimum reintegration and recovery are attributed to a combination of strong psychological resources, social support, and appropriate professional services,” he said.
The report, which was carried out by the Univesity of Limerick, included interviews with several people who have ABI.
ABI CEO, Barbara O’Connell, said that the inclusion of their stories allows people to hear their voices and lifts the lid on the issue.
“Brain injury is a hidden phenomenon in our society. Rarely, if ever, do we hear the voice of the person living with ABI.
“This report lifts the lid and gives us an insight into what life is like for people with a brain injury.
“It illuminates, in very clear terms, the barriers faced, the lack of services that people contend with, and the difficulties in trying to access them,” Ms O’Connell said.
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