Make Way Day highlights issues that people with disabilities  face every da

By Sean Moriarty

Members of Killarney Access Group and well-known local people with disabilities took to the streets of Killarney on Thursday to highlight obstacles they meet on an everyday basis.

Poorly parked cars and trucks, wheelie bins left on the streets for collection, bicycles chained to fences and lamp posts, suitcases being loaded into tour coaches and even dogs tied to railings are just some of the obstacles wheelchair users and visually impaired people face every day.

Thursday was Make Way Day, a national day of action organised by the Disability Federation of Ireland and locally by the Killarney Access Group and the Municipal District Council.

Well-known local musician Morgan Pierce is visually impaired. He uses a cane to find his way around.

“Suitcases on the footpath are the bane of my life,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “I enjoy running too and often go for a run out the Muckross Road. People ask me why I need a cane to get around town and can go running without one. It is simple, I just know there will be no obstructions out the Muckross Road.”

Morgan’s cane is fitted with a special golf ball-sized extension. It helps him identify cracks in the pavement and other potential hazards that could lead him to trip or fall.

“The new pedestrian zone in Tralee has a special groove in the footpath that acts like a guide,” he added and would like the Municipal District Council to consider adding the same in future Killarney improvement works.

Municipal District officer Eileen O’Donoghue confirmed that the local council has done an audit in the town centre and that there is now a programme of works based on the results of that audit.

“One of the reasons we put the new bike racks into various town centre locations was to discourage people from chaining their bicycles to railings and other places that may cause an obstruction,” she explained.

Timo O’Sullivan, a well-known member of Lough Lein Anglers Association and a long-time campaigner has been in a wheelchair for 35 years following a workplace accident.

“Since day one things have improved immensely,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “Killarney is not a bad town but we have to strive for better.”

His biggest issue is poorly parked cars and cars and delivery trucks parked in dedicated blue zones.

“I heard a story where a group of wheelchair users parked several of their chairs in an ordinary parking zone and left notes saying ‘back in five minutes’ on them to get a message across,” he added.