By Róise Collins
FRIDAY marked Make Way Day, a national day of local action that focuses on the practical initiatives we can take together to remove the barriers for people with disabilities in our community.
The day of national significance highlights the importance of working together to make our public spaces more accessible for everyone.
Typical obstacles include bins, sandwich boards or cars and bicycles parked on footpaths.
The quality of the footpaths themselves can also play an important role, according to Donegal County Councillor Patrick McGowan.
He has been very vocal on the issue and recently put forward a motion calling on the council to improve disability access on footpaths in Ballybofey and Stranorlar.
Cllr McGowan told the Donegal News that he has been contacted by a number of young wheelchair users in particular.
He explained how despite having modern motorised wheelchairs they are still being denied their independence and mobility because of the unsuitable footpaths in the Twin Towns.
“We have the mechanisms to give disabled people their independence. However, the problem is the infrastructure is not adequate.”
At the most recent meeting of Stranorlar Lifford Municipal District, Cllr McGowan received a commitment from the council that they would use surplus money gathered from the towns’ pay and display parking to fix trips and hazards on the dangerous footpaths.
Cllr McGowan also emphasised how the issues raised during Make Way Day go beyond the council and gardaí.
He insisted there is also a responsibility on businesses to be careful where they place signage as this could also obstruct footpaths and cause potential hazards for disabled people.