by Louise Doyle
A DISABLED woman has claimed her life and the lives of others are being put in danger by the ‘reckless actions’ of motorists who are continuing to park illegally in Letterkenny.
The woman, who did not wish to be named, has accused traffic wardens in the town of “turning a blind eye” to perpetrators who park illegally on double yellow lines, in disabled car parking spots without the required badge or in loading bays. She said she has challenged them on their lack of action, but to no avail.
A driver herself, the woman who suffered a stroke twenty years ago leaving her left hand side paralysed, said she is at her “wits end” with the situation, which, she claimed, is particularly problematic in the areas around the courthouse, Rosemount Lane and on the main street area of the town.
The woman received a Fixed Charge Notice (FCN) on February 18 of this year for parking on double yellow lines, maintaining she was forced to because of “no other option” because cars, some with no permits, were already parked in disabled bays in the area. She appealed the decision, but it was upheld, and she paid the fine. However, she has since been on a relentless pursuit to bring under the spotlight those who park illegally.
Speaking to the Donegal News, the woman said: “I received a parking ticket because I was parked on a double yellow line and on a footpath. I parked there because there were cars parked in all the disabled spaces in the area and some cars had no disabled parking permit. I parked my car in a way that I had not obstructed anyone from passing by. I appealed my fine but it was turned down.”
In the wake of the incident, the woman said she spoke to the Town Technician, Sean Flanagan, and the Executive Engineer, Michael McFadden, in the Council offices in Letterkenny.
“I enquired why other people who parked in this area on the same day did not receive parking tickets. I also had photographic evidence with me of vans parked in disabled spaces on Letterkenny’s main street and the traffic warden is clearly seen passing by and ignoring them. The County Council seem to be ignoring that this illegal parking is still happening daily in Letterkenny.”
This newspaper has seen various documentation, including letters written to TDs and relevant bodies, however, the absence of action has led the woman to spearhead a campaign against illegal parking.
Claiming an unfairness is at play, she has called on the local authority to address the issue.
“I want Donegal County Council staff to address the illegal parking and treat all citizens alike, and not have one law for one and a different law for me. They (Donegal County Council) are allowing illegal parking to continue on a daily basis and I have photographic evidence beyond reasonable doubt that illegal parking is continuing and is being ignored by Donegal County Council staff, from the top to the bottom.
“Cars are simply abandoned on the pavement or on yellow lines, meaning that pedestrians cannot use the footpath fully and are forced to walk out on the road. I am talking about disabled people like myself, mothers with prams and elderly people. It’s only a matter of time before someone is really injured or even worse.
“I had to pay €40, which I had no problem paying because I know I shouldn’t have parked where I did, but when spaces are being used up illegally it forces those who really need them into a difficult situation.
However, I just ask that everyone who parks illegally gets the same treatment, otherwise the system is discriminatory and unfair.
“The Council are saying they don’t have enough traffic wardens and they need more disabled parking bays but we do have enough of both, if they would just do their job and keep motorists who are not meant to be parked in disabled bays out.”
The woman also claimed she knew of other disabled drivers who were parking in disabled car parking bays for more than the two-hour allotted time.
“Disabled bays have an allocated time of two hours, which is the same entitlement across the board. However, I have seen drivers with a disabled permit park there for more than two hours and not receive a ticket. There is clear signage in the town of allotted parking times, which is blatantly being ignored by motorists.
“I have seen elderly people, other disabled people and women with prams trying to make their way along in the area of the courthouse and it is a struggle for them. I’m amazed that no-one has been injured or worse, as of yet.”
Donegal County Council were contacted for a response in relation to the claims, however, a reply was not available at the time of going to press.