Disability and Rural access in West Cork, Evie Nevin
The mother of two lives with a disability, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The condition is a rare disease, which affects the connective tissue. Her two children, Alex (9) and Olivia (3) are also affected. “I wasn’t always mobility impaired and like so many people, I never thought I would be. Disability or impairments can happen so quickly through illness or an accident. Disability does not discriminate.
We are an aging population. We are living longer, so it is imperative that we put things in place for older people as well as those with disabilities. “ Of the 11,000 living with disabilities in west Cork, almost 5,000 have difficulty with activities such as climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying.
“One of my main goals should I be elected to Cork County Council is to develop a plan to make West Cork age and disability friendly. I would do this while working closely with local community groups such as the Clonakilty Access Group which has been working tirelessly to improve accessibility since 1999,” says Evie who is a part-time wheelchair user.
The local election candidate suggests that one of the first steps in making west Cork more inclusive is by making the bus routes accessible. “I have been in touch with Bus Éireann and Cork County Council about this issue. Bus Éireann tells me they cannot provide accessible buses until the bus stops are in the right condition. The 236 and 237 are the main bus routes for West Cork. There are accessible stops in Skibbereen but they are of no use unless the actual vehicle is accessible. It also makes many travel cards obsolete if a person with a disability can’t access public transport.
“West Cork is a beautiful place with a lot to offer and it should be accessible to all residents. We also must remember that West Cork is a popular tourist destination and we are not allowing a pretty substantial portion of society to come and visit.
Ms Nevin believes West Cork can become more age and disability friendly by introducing a number of very achievable initiatives such as installing more automatic doors, ramps, levelling and decluttering of footpaths, crossings for the blind, local interpreters, looping systems and disabled bathrooms that have hoists for older children. “It is not just a disease or a disorder that disables people. Society disables us,” concludes Ms Nevin.