Longford pledges support for ‘Make Way Day’

Hey, this blocks my way: Highlighting the issues people with disabilities face

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Longford pledges support for ‘Make Way Day’

Longford County Council Access Officer Frank Horne, Longford County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Paul Ross and Longford Public Participation Network Manager Siobhan Cronogue Picture: Shelley Corcoran

Make Way Day on Friday, September 25, is a national public awareness campaign to highlight the issues people with disabilities face getting around their local communities.

“Hey, this blocks my way!” is the message being brought to all members of the community.

This year due to Covid-19, Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) are moving the campaign online and having a virtual ‘Make Way Day’.

Longford County Council is one of the 31 City and County Councils in the country who are supporting the novel virtual event.

County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Paul Ross outlined that the ‘Make Way Day’ campaign highlights the simple things that everyone can do on a daily basis to improve access and movement for people with a disability.

Cllr Ross added, “The placing of a bin on a pavement may seem like a simple thing but this can cause a serious challenge to someone with a disability. I would ask the people of Longford to consider the needs of others when going about their daily business on the streets of our towns to ensure what they do does not impact on wheelchair users or those with a disability.”

Paddy Mahon, Chief Executive, Longford County Council said ‘we have all learned of the need to ‘make way’ and keep our distance as we have had to deal with Covid-19 over the last few months and we have managed to do this very well.

Mr Mahon continued, “We know that it is possible to keep our walkways clear and as wide as possible. So we have no excuse now for blocking the way now and in the future with cars or vans parked on our footpaths, with wheelie bins or kegs or sandwich boards on footpaths and so on. Let's make every day a ‘Make Way Day’ from now on.”

The sentiments expressed by Cllr Ross and Mr Mahon were endorsed by organisers Frank Horne, Longford County Council Access Officer and Siobhan Cronogue, PPN Manager.

Both agreed that what many of us take for granted can be the difference in preventing someone with mobility issues from leaving their home or maybe having to risk their lives because they have to go out on to the road to get past a parked car on the footpath.

Mr Horne explained, “The objective of this year’s DFI campaign is to build a digital ‘Make Way Day’ story around the country.

Their hope is that this online version of the event will collapse the distance between people, and offer solidarity to people with disabilities who continue to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. I think we are all in agreement with DFI that this will build a sense of community and belonging for everyone involved.”

Ms Cronogue commented, “It's so important that people participate in the virtual ‘Make Way Day’ and I am delighted for our local event that we have confirmed attendance from Cllr Ross, Mr Mahon, Council Engineer, representatives from the traffic warden section, community gardaí and the PPN Disability Network. As staff, our role is to listen to the people who are experiencing issues with access and agree an action plan with all involved.”

Ms Cronogue said she was looking forward to the meeting which takes place around the country on Friday, September 25 from 11am and she asked everyone in the community to be conscious and respectful of other people’s abilities when it comes to access. Check out www.makewayday.com for more information.

People are also being encouraged to take pictures of the obstacles they encounter (parked cars on footpaths, bikes chained to railings, sandwich boards and overhanging branches) and post their pictures to social media. Include #MakeWayDay20, tag @MakeWayDay and @disabilityfed in your post.