Dundalk 'Back in 5' campaign unveiled
The Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) launched the 'Back in 5' campaign in Dundalk last week to highlight the difficulties faced by disabled people and wheelchair users when motorists park illegally in disabled bays.
A line of wheelchairs occupied parking bays along Clanbrassil Street, with notices attached reading 'Keep Calm, I'll be back in 5 minutes'
Robert Hurr from the Irish Wheelchair Association explained the background to the demonstration;
'The initiative involves a regular car space on the street taking up by an empty wheelchair parked in it with a note pinned to the back with messages such as 'Be back in 5 minutes'/ 'Just gone to the bank,' or 'Just running in for a coffee.' These are throw away statements that people with disabilities encounter every day when people use accessible spaces that do not need them.'
He added: 'The rationale behind the campaign in County Louth, is that we target areas such as Drogheda, Ardee and Dundalk on a particular time, the aim being to draw attention to the abuse of accessible parking bays and to highlight the need for more accessible parking bays in the town centres.'
'Accessible car spaces are located nearest to building entrances or lifts to make it convenient for people with limited mobility or those using wheelchairs to access services. It is important that these spaces are not abused in any way and always kept clear.
Speaking on Clanbrassil Street Councillor Yore said its way past time that all People in Louth 'Be the Voice' and advocate for people with disabilities when they see drivers illegally parking in disabled bays.
Cllr. Yore added: It is vitally important we all work together with An Garda Siochana and Louth Traffic Wardens to make Louth an accessible and equal county for all.
The campaign is based on the Lisbon Experiment in Portugal that took place in 2014, which was a campaign designed to highlight the frustrations people with disabilities face every day when able-bodied people park their cars in wheelchair accessible spaces without a valid parking permit or reason to do so.
In Ireland a similar campaign was rolled out in Navan in 2017 with the support of the North East Region of the Irish Wheelchair Association.
The campaign is very much keeping in line with the operation enable campaign that has been enrolled out very successfully by the Gardaí in County Louth,' said Robert Hurr.