18 May 2022

Wheelchair accessible swings in local playgrounds in Laois demanded

Laois Councillor calls for wheelchair accessible swings in local playgrounds

Funding should be found to install  wheelchair swings in local playgrounds,  Laois County Councillor James Kelly has demanded.

Cllr Kelly made the appeal in a motion at the latest Borris in Ossory Mountmellick Municipal District meeting. He said that Laois County Council, as part of its ethos of inclusiveness, provide funding to install wheelchair swings in the playgrounds of this Municipal District.

"I've been pushing motions like this for the last six years. There was a case where there was a wheelchair accessible swing in Tullamore and people were travelling from miles away to use it," he said.

A wheelchair accessible swing in an Irish playground.

"We all know when we go to a playground, the swings are going and the kids are having a great time. To them, the higher they go the better. But the wheelchair platform enables wheelchair users to experience this joy," he said.

The councillor urged that the council look at this issue in a timely fashion. 

Ms. Ann Marie Maher, Sport and Leisure Officer in Laois County Council, responded;

"Laois County Council are providing a range a of accessible equipment at Mountrath Amenity Area and Coolrain playgrounds, and current procurement underway for Borris in Ossory, also has provision for accessible equipment. Over the next 3 years, further consideration will be given  to the accessibility and inclusivity of playgrounds in Mountmellick, Clonaslee, Rathdowney, Castletown and Kiln Lane, Mountrath, subject to availability of budget."

Cllr Kelly was not satisfied with the reply.

"They say it will be addressed within the next three years, but I have been on about this for the last six years already. I believe that accessible equipment is to be built in a Portlaoise playground, and fair play to them for it," he said.

"I know that I only represent Mountrath but I would love to see these swings in playgrounds across Laois. We need to be more inclusive," Cllr Kelly concluded.

John King seconded the motion.

"The weather has been good and the parks are full of children. I've been asked several times about this issue, we need to keep pushing for this funding," he said.

Cllr Ollie Clooney also agreed with the motion tabled.

"This is a motion of equality. As James rightly pointed out, it's sad to see children in wheelchairs not being able to take part. We need to cater for everyone, if we could get the money it would be absolutely brilliant," said Cllr Clooney.

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