‘You have heard the phrase, nothing about us, without us’

By Brendan Grehan

THE decision by the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) to close the Cuisle Holiday Centre in Roscommon will “directly hit our members”.

The Lucan Disability Action Group is calling on The IWA to reverse its decision to close the centre or to postpone it for a year.

Lucan Disability 04 compressor

Wheelchair user John McCarthy and Nathan Phelan

The centre in Donamon, Co Roscommon is Ireland’s only fully accessible holiday and respite centre.

Caroline Brady, from the Clondalkin-based Lucan Disability Action Group (LDAG), told The Echo: “The decision to close Cuisle is a direct hit on our members.”

LDAG currently has in excess of 1,000 members from all over South Dublin who would use Cuisle to go on holidays without their carers.

Ms Brady said: “You have heard of the phrase ‘nothing about us, without us’ This decision was made without any consultation. It directly affects our members and their carers. It will adversely affect carers and families who rely on this facility to provide much-needed respite.

Cuisle provides a unique service for the whole of Ireland. It prioritises, and can cater for, the needs and rights of up to 35 people per night living with the full spectrum of disabilities.”

The IWA are proposing to provide holiday breaks for people with disabilities by partnering with accessible hotels.

Ms Brady believes many hotels are not accessible enough to accommodate their members. She said: “The beauty of Cuisle is that it gives both our members and their carers a holiday. Many hotels are not accessible enough.

“The IWA and Minister Finian McGrath state that they are planning to provide a wider range of choice to people with disabilities by partnering with accessible hotels.

While this is to be welcomed, this new model is not currently in place and will only commence in March 2020.

It is incredible to close Cuisle now before this new model has even started, not alone tested to evaluate its effectiveness in addressing the needs and rights of people with disabilities.”

Ms Brady told The Echo that LDAG are asking the IWA and Minister Finian McGrath “to at least halt this decision by 12 months or ideally reverse it completely”.

The Echo contacted both the IWA and Minister Finian McGrath about the decision to close Cuisle, but they did not respond before we went to press.

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