AROUND five people with disabilities in Sallynoggin who wanted to cast their votes in the recent marriage referendum could not do so at their allocated polling station due to a lack of wheelchair accessibility in St Kevin’s National School.
Cllr Cormac Devlin (FF) is calling on the county sheriff to ensure there is no repeat of this. He said: “I am shocked and appalled that a situation can arise in the year 2015 that someone is unable to access their local polling station.
“All public buildings are meant to be fully accessible according to relevant disability legislation. This is not the first time this issue has arisen at this location.
This happened previously in 2011 during the General Election.
At that time, Cllr Devlin notified the county registrar who changed the location of the polling station to another nearby secondary school at the last referendum on abolishing the Seanad in 2013.
The change worked perfectly but the polling station for the area reverted to St Kevin’s Primary School once again for the latest referendum.
When voters with disabilities showed up to vote on the marriage equality referendum on May 22, they found no ramp and could therefore not gain access. Efforts were made to enquire about hiring or borrowing a ramp but to no avail.
“It is simply not good enough and I will be raising this issue with the county sheriff once again to ensure this can never happen again. Either the building becomes accessible or the polling station is moved permanently,” said Cllr Devlin.
The Dublin county returning officer, Fergus Gallagher, told The Gazette: “St Kevin’s School is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible.
“I have complied with the relevant legislation in this regard. It is open to any voter affected by this to apply to me to vote in another station and I have always complied with such requests, often at very short notice.
“It would be preferable, of course, if the school were wheelchair accessible but that is beyond my control. The use of primary schools as polling stations is recommended before the use of secondary schools by reason of possible disruption to exam classes.”
The Yes Equality vote in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown was 71% on a turnout of 64%.
In the Dun Laoghaire ward, of which Sallynoggin is a part, the results were 71% Yes, 29% No, and the turnout was 63%.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown had the fifth highest Yes vote percentage for the same-sex marriage referendum in the whole of Dublin.