Beach wheelchair plan for Culdaff beach causes concern due to access issues

Plans for a beach wheelchair for Culdaff beach could run into difficulty due to ongoing access issues at the popular location.

By Laura Glenn
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 10:56 am
Councillor McGuinness has previously raises concerns over a ramp that is used to access the beach.
Councillor McGuinness has previously raises concerns over a ramp that is used to access the beach.

It was announced at this week’s meeting of Inishowen Municipal District Councillors that Donegal County Council, in partnership with McGrory’s Hotel in Culdaff, are providing a beach wheelchair for use in Culdaff.

Councillors were asked to secure a date for the launch of this facility. However, Fine Gael Councillor Johnny McGuinness, who lives in Culdaff, said there are serious access issues to the beach and people ‘can’t even walk on to it, never mind take a motorised wheelchair.’

Colr McGuinness highlighted in April how a ramp allowing people on the beach is unstable, causing one lady to fall and there is also a safety issue with the boardwalk.

He said this week that while the wheelchair would be welcomed with ‘open arms,’ there have also been concerns raised that local stakeholders, such as the community development association, the nearby football club and those involved with the Hoist Away facility were not consulted or asked for their views on it.

“Families have also expressed concern that there has been no thought of how you’d get a person in and out of the chair, or how you allow a person to get changed in a proper environment when they get to the beach. There is no infrastructure there that would enable this to work smoothly and be successful. I’ve made many a public call on these access issues and while I welcome the initiative with open arms and commend everyone involved, the fact of the matter is that there has been zero communication with the people of the village and those who will use this wonderful facility and asset when we go about it in the right manner. I’m sorry to say that May 27 for the launch doesn’t work.”

Colr McGuinness said access issues mean you ‘can’t even walk on to the beach, never mind taking a motorised wheelchair.’ He added that the suggested access location for the wheelchair is not suitable, ‘as anyone who has walked around that area will tell you it’s not even safe to walk on, never mind taking anything with wheels on it. I’m going to have to ask: ‘What is going on here? Why hasn’t due diligence been taken? Why haven’t people of the area been contacted for their views and why hasn’t the facility that works with families that need this asset been spoken to - why haven’t I or the community development association been spoken to? I don’t understand the whole thing. It’s beyond belief; you can’t even walk on to the beach. We’re hoping to facilitate wheelchair users with this asset and we can’t even get people who don’t have mobility issues on to the beach.”

Fianna Fail Councillor Martin McDermott suggested that a meeting be organised among stakeholders ‘as access to the beach is something that is going on for months’. “There are issues there that need to be resolved and the right thing is to get everyone together and see how we move forward.” Colr McGuinness was told that an on-site meeting was due to take place earlier and his remarks would be passed on.