Why Life Is Not a Beach For Many East Cork Wheelchair Users

By Seamus Whelehan

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Cork County Council is considering the introduction of specially adapted wheelchairs at coastal locations around the county, to make its beaches more accessible for people with disabilities.
Councillors told the January sitting of the local authority, beach access for wheelchair users isn’t just about putting in a ramp.
The move comes following the tabling of a motion by Councillor Eoghan Jeffers.
The Sinn Féin Cllr told the executive many of our beaches are a navigable nightmare for people in wheelchairs.
He said while not all beaches are suitable there are many in County Cork that would be a viable option.
The hyper-combi chair can glide across soft sand. Is easily wheeled across the rough terrain and is designed to float in the sea.
Cork County Council in conjunction with the Disability Federation and Cork Sports Partnership, have undertaken a survey to determine if the authority’s facilities, including its beaches are accessible to all.
Fine Gael Cllr Kevin Murphy who backed the call said “It’s annoying to see people sitting in a wheelchair outside on the road way and not be able to access the beach. As a community we are denying the most venerable section of the community.”
Midleton based Cllr, Danielle Twomey said by providing the equipment the authority would help wheelchair users get their first taste of ocean waves.
“We have Youghal beach and we have newly built ramps onto the beach, but once you hit the sand it’s soft, so [the ramps] are not fit for purpose. Something like this would rectify that.”
Deputy Chief Executive Declan Daly said when works are undertaken by the council ramps are included but admitted there was a problem accessing the shoreline.
He said he would feed the Cllrs concerns into the current review process.
Cllrs will have to wait to see whether the disability inclusion action plan due to be published shortly will make a difference.

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