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Seeking Beach Wheelchair Facility at Fountainstown


Writes Leo McMahon

 

A renewed call for a beach wheelchair at Fountainstown was made by an Cathaoirleach Cllr Audrey Buckley (FF) at the recent meeting of the county council’s Carrigaline Municipal District (MD).

Such a facility, she contended, was agreed on by the MD over one and a half years ago and there had been requests locally have it in place for this summer. ‘With beach lifeguards located at the beach, this will work well with the possibility of it being accessed from the lifeguard hut and being stored at night inside it’.


In a report, MD officer Denise Kidney explained that before a beach wheelchair could be purchased, a beach accessibility audit needed to be carried out by the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI). The audit would determine if Fountainstown was suitable. The MD would request an audit to be carried out.


Cllr Buckley said such a facility was needed more than ever as a result of one former regular swimmer becoming disabled.



Ms Kidney said a DFI audit was carried out in 2021 and Fountainstown was not deemed suitable for a beach wheelchair. Reasons included the stone terrain and access. The criteria included a disabled person toilet and a lifeguard. She asked if the MD wanted an updated audit.


‘Absolutely’, said Cllr Buckley who also spoke of the importance of wheelchair access for disabled swimmers’ mental health. There was definitely access when the tide was in and she understood that the council had since improved the slipway to make it suitable.


Seconding, Cllr Jack White (FG) said Cllr Buckley had done a lot of good work on this and other matters in Fountainstown for a number of years. He too favoured an updated audit with a view to providing a facility that would be used by several disabled persons wishing to swim there.

Senior executive officer Maurice Murphy replied that the council would look for an audit. He pointed out that the area of access was currently occupied. Lifeguards were not allowed to man wheelchair access but rather monitor people in the water and not be distracted from that. In other places in the county where there was a beach wheelchair (e.g. Rosscarbery and Youghal) the facility was managed by a nearby hotel and a private business.


Cllr Buckley said she would like to hear from the DFI what the MD could do to meet the requirements.


The MD officer reported that contractor approval for the €200,000 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme Measure 2 at Fountainstown went through in February and had passed the council’s Part 8 planning application phase. Work was due to start soon and it was hoped to complete this by the end of September.


The scheme includes a looped walk, biodiversity information boards, native hedging and bulb planting, a road crossing from the car park to the beach, seating by the beach wall and further landscaping in the car park.


Casual Trading

Cllr White had a motion seeking an update on casual trading bylaws and how the public could have a say.


In reply, Ms Kidney said the council was in the process of drafting bylaws for the MD and once agreed, these would go out for public consultation for submissions from the public. Senior executive officer Maurice Murphy said it was an extremely complex process but the council was very committed to addressing it with each MD in the county ahead of submitting an agreed draft to full council. It was not possible to put a timeline on this but everything would be looked at and he asked for patience.

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