The loo-nacy of excluding public toilet facilities for wheelchair users

by Rose Barrett
0 comment

BY Rose Barrett

Corina Johnston, mother of two and local Labour Party area representative is calling on Fingal County Council to urgently install a temporary wheelchair accessible toilet at the Brook Beach, Portrane. 

Ms Johnston fumed at the lack of a public toilet for wheelchair users at Beach Brook, Portrane and also at Donabate where public toilets are accessible down steps!

“In this day and age, this is not good enough! For most people out walking near the wonderful coastline in Portrane and Donabate, you can access the public amenity and then continue on your way.

“Now imagine you are on the same journey but as a person in a wheelchair and urgently need to use a public toilet. You arrive at the cubicle – if you can access one – and realise that the door frame is not wide enough to accommodate your wheelchair!”

Ms Johnston stated this is what happened young Jack Tanner recently.

“Jack is a lovely young fella from the Burrow, Portrane who has additional needs. He went out with his personal assistant, Robert recently for recreational purposes.

“It was raining, and Jack tried to enter a toilet cubicle, one of four new unts installed by Fingal Co Co. The wheelchair became jarred within the door frame and Robert had to haul himself over Jack and his chair to assist him. 

“An absolutely shattering experience for this young man which does not send out a positive message on inclusiveness and equality for all.

Jack Tanners and his assistant trying to access one of the new toilet facilities at Portrane

”This incident need not have happened if my concerns had been taken on board. I contacted Fingal Co Co in January last when they were installing the replacement toilets and expressed my objection to its location and the lack of wheelchair and baby changing facilities within the cubicles.

“In February, I posted that surely it was possible to hire or rent a more appropriate wheelchair accessible toilet for the summer.  The response from the council was that they had already provided a temporary toilet and were in the process of identifying a site for a permanent replacement.”  

Johnston said; “We have recently been informed that Portrane is in the second tranche of replacement public toilets to be installed with a projected date for the completion of the installation of the permanent toilets now 2024. This is not good enough!

In response to Ms Johnston’s criticism, a spokesperson for Fingal Co Co replied:

“Fingal County Council Operations Department has stated that the public toilets at Portrane are temporary.

“Fingal County Council will be carrying out refurbishment and redevelopment work for public toilets at Portrane alongside Donabate, Skerries, Rush and Balbriggan.  These toilets will have changing facilities and be accessible to all.  It is anticipated that delivery will be within the next 18 months with tendering completed.”

The council did not clarify where wheelchair users could access an appropriate public toilet at Brook Beach.

Ms Johnston stated this is not good enough, and not acceptable when everyone – including wheelchair users – should have access to public toilets and public places.

“While Fingal Co Co have an excellent record in providing disability access and equality Initiatives for people with additional needs throughout Fingal, on this occasion, however, they have failed.”

She called on Fingal Co Co to end the loo-nacy now and instal a temporary, accessible public toilet as a priority at Brook Beach, Portrane.

“Something similar to what was recently installed in Portmarnock and Sutton.  Deputy Duncan Smith, our councillors and I are also requesting that the CEO and the council’s Access Officer become personally involved in its provision.  

“What happened to Jack Tanner should not be allowed happen again” concluded Ms Johnston.

Related Articles