A support officer for people with disabilities has said it is “disgraceful” that locations without wheelchair access have been chosen for polling stations.
Martin Naughton of the Disability Federation of Ireland is a wheelchair user who said that measures must be in place to ensure that all voters can exercise their right to cast a ballot.
Dublin Mid-West, Dublin South, and Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown are among the constituencies that have some polling stations that are not wheelchair accessible. The returning officer in Kerry has identified 10 schools in the county that will host polling stations that are also not wheelchair accessible.
“It is a disgraceful fact that for schooling purposes and voting purposes these buildings do not have access for all,” Mr Naughton said.
“I really hope that the returning officers do all they can to ensure everyone can gain access to their polling station, or facilitate people in some other way,” he said.
“It is imperative we are all entitled to exercise our franchise. This demonstrated again how many people are excluded from everyday life,” Mr Naughton said.
The Irish Wheelchair Association said it has worked with both the Department of the Environment and returning officers around the country to compile a list of polling stations that do not have wheelchair access.
“IWA is still in the process of compiling a definitive list of polling stations which are not accessible,” a spokesperson said yesterday.
“Unfortunately, in the process of writing to returning officers we did not receive a response from all constituencies. The association will be completing a consultation process with our members following the election which will hopefully provide us with a more comprehensive list,” the spokesperson said.
Wheelchair users registered to vote at polling stations without access are expected to have transferred their vote to another location a week ahead of today’s ballot.
Returning officers are to have issued a public notice of any polling stations that do not have wheelchair access.