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Wheelchair users out for festive shopping turned away from train

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Pictured at Enniscorthy Train Station, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford are wheelchair bound Bernadette Flood, Anntte Byrne and Theresa Ryan all from

Pictured at Enniscorthy Train Station, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford are wheelchair bound Bernadette Flood, Anntte Byrne and Theresa Ryan all from

Pictured at Enniscorthy Train Station, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford are wheelchair bound Bernadette Flood, Anntte Byrne and Theresa Ryan all from

TWO people confined to wheelchairs missed out on their Christmas shopping trip in Dublin when Irish Rail could not take them on a train.

Bernadette Flood and Theresa Ryan said they felt discriminated against after being left on the platform at Enniscorthy train station yesterday.

A third friend - Annette Byrne, also in a wheelchair - refused to travel onboard the 7.20am Rosslare to Connolly Station service when there was no room on board for her two companions.

alternative

A spokesman for Irish Rail said: "We contacted one of the customers later in the morning to apologise and offer a wheelchair taxi."

He added: "We are sorry we were unable to accommodate the customers. We will provide a wheelchair taxi in such a situation if there is not a suitable alternative train service, and unfortunately this was not done."

Eight members of Wexford Wheelchair Association, including three assistants, boarded the early morning train from Wexford.

However, when Ms Flood and Ms Ryan attempted to get on at the Enniscorthy stop, they were unable to because there wasn't enough room to accommodate them.

Independent Wexford councillor Mary Farrell said the incident was "absolutely ridiculous" and described it as "discriminatory".

"By refusing the women access to the train, they took away their independence," she told the Herald.

Ms Farrell, who is also a service co-ordinator for the Irish Wheelchair Association, accepted in hindsight the group could have booked in advance, but said that this would have made no difference to the outcome.

"As well as ruining the ladies' day out, it was embarrassing to be told on a platform in Enniscorthy that they wouldn't have room for their electric wheelchairs on the train," Ms Farrell added.

A standard four-carriage train accommodates 262 people, meaning only 0.8pc of space is allocated to those in an electric wheelchair.

hnews@herald.ie


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