Sunday, March 11, 2007

 

Accessibility Audits for Meath

The proposal to build an incinerator outside Duleek continues to be fought. This week an oral Hearing into the planned extension of the plant (it’s not built yet and already they are applying for an extension!) took place at the Boyne Valley hotel. I attended to give evidence.

The No incineration Alliance had lined up a number of witnesses to speak against the proposal. I was asked to speak on the potential impact on the aquifer under the site. An aquifer is a large pool of water and the one under Duleek is one of the biggest in the area.

I spoke for about 20 minutes on the subject and reminded the Inspector that it was two years to the very day since I gave evidence against the proposal to grant an EPA licence to the plant. As Pat O Brien said “Every day without the plant is another good day”
I was followed by Councillor Ged Nash of Louth and by Deputy Trevor Sargent of the Green Party from Dublin North.

It’s expected that the Inspector will take about four months before she comes to a decision on this.

At the County council meeting on Monday I got a response to the question I had raised about how Meath are progressing the implementation of the Barcelona Declaration. The Declaration seeks to improve the rights of the disabled throughout Europe. Meath County Manager Tom Dowling provided me with a detailed report of how the Council is trying to improve the current situation.

Of particular interest to me was his proposal to spend money doing an accessibility audit of our towns and villages. These audits will look at things such as open spaces, public buildings and the general streetscape to assess what improvements are needed to make day-to-day life easier for disabled people.

The Manager will carry out accessibility audits on fie towns initially. In tandem with this he is training up staff to carry out audits on the other towns and villages. Once the audits are complete a programme of improvement measures will be drawn up for each town and village. I’ll be keeping an eye on these audits to make sure that they don’t slip of the radar screens.

On Friday Labour Party Leader Pat Rabbitte came down to Meath for a visit. We met in Ashbourne and then took a trip to Cushenstown to my old school. We then travelled over to Donacarney, where we got a tour of the crèche in Castle Glen. The children had been told that a Mr Rabbitte was coming and it seems to lead to a bit of confusion. The crèche was state-of-the-art, very clean and well laid out. We spoke to the staff about the problems they had encountered with red-tape when it came to the planning and development of the building. The whole process for crèche provision is certainly something that needs to be looked at.

Meath East Constituency Visit
At 5, the twins just realised that Pat's pledge for free GP cards for under 5's was of no use to them

Pat then launched my new website. It’s been a few weeks in the planning and it seeks to incorporate my blog into the main body of my website. At the “Blogging the Election” conference in the autumn the blogging grand-master Slugger O'Toole made the point that blogs and websites should really be one and the same thing. That’s what we’ve tried to do in the re-design.


Pat R and myself do a "tour"


We went down to Scotch Hall to meet the Drogheda Independent and Cllr Ged Nash and after a bun and a coffee I saw Pat off. I went home to change and headed up to Dalymount Park for the first match of the new season.

Not the best of matches, but a sizeable contingent of away supporters made the trip up to Phibsboro.

Comments:
Good luck with the new website Dominic, I like what you're doing here. You're a great example to other politicos.
 
Hi Dominic,

It is unfortunate that you use the word 'accessibility" in your post title and go on to mention within, the launch of your new website.

Web Accessibility plays a much more important role in the lives of the disabled than it does for able-bodied. For the able-bodied websites and blogs are a great convenience and an enhancement to eveyone's lives, but for some disabled persons, they are more and more becoming necessities.

Take for example, a vision-impaired person living in Slane who wants buy a specialised book, for example. They have the choice of getting a bus to Dublin (luckily they live in the village), and negotiate their way about town in unfamiliar surroundings and dangerous ped-crossings hoping the likes of Eason will have this book, then to find out they don't but it will be ordered for them and will they come back again in two weeks?

Or they could just buy it from Amazon.com and have it delivered in two days, for a fraction of the totaled cost.

Fortunatley amazon.com is designed to be reasonbaly accessible, phew!

I don't want to sound like I'm giving out yards though, because from reading your blog for a long while now, I'm sure you would have had it taken care of, if you had better awareness of web accessibilty.

for more info:
http://accessit.nda.ie/about_1.html

Finally, one other point I always make in this regard: did you know that almost 100% of people suffer a difficult disabilty at some point in our lives and most of us multiple times. In other words: it's not just about wheelchairs.

Thanks for listening,
keep up the good work!

CL, Slane.
 
Hi CL. Point taken. I hadn't come across this website up to now. Thanks for making me aware of it. DH
 
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