Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that while the change from 24 to 4 hour notice for wheelchair users and other passengers with disabilities on DART services are a move in the right direction, it’s still discrimination, and more needs to done to support people with disabilities.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony was commenting after Irish Rail announced changes to its disability services, and the creation of zones and hubs to cater for people with disabilities using its DART services.

“The nub of this issue is the discrimination that people with disabilities face on a daily basis in terms of accessing public services, such as the DART service.

“Excuses from Irish Rail that its network is based on 19th century buildings is all well and good, but it is citizens today, including many citizens with disabilities, that are funding its services in 2018.

“I am concerned about the potential for two or more people with disabilities seeking to use a DART service at the same time. In many cases, there will be only one staff member for up to four stations. How can we expect one staff member to service all of these stations?

“A major challenge for people with disabilities is commuting for work in the morning and evening. Any form of delay can have a really negative impact on their ability to secure and retain employment.

“I suggest that Irish Rail ensure that between 6am and 10am that all stations have a dedicated staff members on site to ensure that people with disabilities can avail of DART services to allow them go to and return from work.

“In the longer term, the need to pre-request assistance needs to be ended. It is discrimination – no ifs, no buts no maybes.

“Additionally, consistent malfunctions in elevators and lifts at train stations need to be ended. If these devices are out of order, all the staff in the world will not allow a person in a wheelchair to access platforms and use Irish Rail services.

“No form of discrimination can ever be acceptable in Ireland in 2018. Ministers Ross and McGrath need to come together and deliver the funding that Irish Rail needs to improve access for people with disabilities,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.