independent

Friday 18 April 2014

It's an obstacle course getting around town

But no one's listening to book shop owner Jackie

Business owner Jackie Fitzgerald gets a helping hand in crossing Fitzgerald St, Macroom. Photo: John Delea.

A MACROOM businesswoman says that navigating the town is "traumatic" for wheelchair users - but that the local council has ignored her pleas for improvements.

Jackie Fitzgerald, of the Macroom Bookshop, says she has submitted a list of over 50 hazards she has observed along Macroom's paths and roads to the town council, but that the local authority has failed to act on these problems.

Exposed manhole covers, potholes and the height of footpath kerbs in the town make getting around Macroom unassisted impossible for wheelchair-users, Ms Fitzgerald said this week. She said that the recent gas pipeline works have added to her difficulties.

"You can see small holes opening up in the roads, and other parts were filled in with small pieces of tarmac that can get stuck in the wheels of a wheelchair and could see someone thrown from their chair. It's traumatic," she said.

"Everybody has the right to independence, to go about their business on their own, but that's not the case for me in Macroom where I need help at times.

"I'm annoyed and frustrated that it has to be like this. People are lovely, and are very helpful, but it shouldn't be like this," she said.

Ms Fitzgerald further accused the council of "paying lip service" to wheelchair users by installing disabled parking spaces next to high footpaths.

"The disabled space in the square is next to a high footpath. So wheelchair users can't get up onto it to go about their shopping, which is why I would assume the space is supposed to be there in the first place. How helpful is something like that?" she asked.

Ms Fitzgerald said that she hoped to raise awareness of the problems facing wheelchair users as she has not been satisfied by the response she received from the council so far.

"I'm frustrated with the system. Where can I go, what can I do to make it better?"

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