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Councils should consider introducing dedicated parking spaces for those with hidden disabilities – Carrigy

27th February 2022 - Senator Micheál Carrigy

Local authorities should consider introducing parking spaces for people with hidden disabilities in public places, according to Fine Gael Senator Micheál Carrigy.

Senator Carrigy believes local authorities should follow the lead of Waterford in introducing pilot schemes providing specific spaces for people with disabilities which would make local amenities, facilities and commercial areas more accessible.

Senator Carrigy said, “Hidden disabilities can include autism, chronic pain, and learning difficulties as well as mental health conditions, mobility issues, speech impairments, and sensory loss, such as speech, sight, or hearing loss.

“Simple, everyday tasks like shopping, attending appointments and going to parks or public amenities can be more challenging for people with a hidden disability like autism.

“Because we can’t see physical evidence of this disability, it can be difficult for people to understand or recognise the challenges of others and to respond accordingly with empathy and patience.

“As the father of a child with autism, I believe we need to generate more awareness of these conditions and encourage acceptance, understanding and inclusion in our society.

“This includes how we can make public services more accessible to people, and I believe councils across the country should be providing dedicated parking spaces for people with hidden disabilities.

“In some cases, these individuals and families are not entitled to a Disabled Parking Permit, but they need to be able to park closer to certain facilities in a safe manner.

“Local authorities such as Waterford have successfully introduced designated parking, which are clearly marked with a sunflower – the internationally recognised symbol for hidden disabilities.

“I recently called on the organisers of St Patrick’s Day parades throughout the country to incorporate quiet sections to allow people on the autism spectrum enjoy the celebrations. I was delighted that parade organisers in Longford have agreed that a section of this year’s parade will have no music or sirens.

“Following consultation with Longford Chamber of Commerce, we are in the process of identifying a suitable parking area for people with all disabilities, which will be accessible and near to the quiet section of the parade so they can watch on in comfort and safety.

“The provision of these hidden disability spaces is something I would like to see permanently introduced by Longford County Council and other councils throughout the country.

“I intend to raise this matter in the Seanad and will write to Fine Gael councillors in every local authority asking them to bring forward a motion for the introduction of a pilot programme for hidden disability parking spaces.

“We have made great strides as a society in being more inclusive and in empowering our children, our young people and adults, including those with special needs or a disability, to reach their full potential.

“Encouraging councils to introduce parking spaces for hidden disabilities would be a positive and progressive step,” Senator Carrigy concluded.

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