Following a survey conducted amongst our members in recent weeks which revealed that an overwhelming majority of you, almost 90%, plan to vote in both the Local and European Elections on June 7.  But multiple challenges relating to accessibility of polling stations and privacy when voting is still a huge concern.  

IWA’s National Advocacy Manager Joan Carthy, said; “The findings of the survey demonstrate a powerful message that people with disabilities want to be a part of the electoral process and I urge the government to take a more inclusive approach to allow people to exercise their right to vote”.   

Our thanks to the 317 members who took part in the survey and helped to shine a spotlight on the difficulties you have encountered in the past at polling stations.  The majority cited frequent access issues with voting in schools and community halls, in particular, which included problems getting through the front door or no wheelchair accessible booth being provided.  Another respondent said: “There was no accessible parking space near the door to unload and vote”.   

It’s also telling that of the four issues identified in the survey, access came out on top as the one of most importance to our members followed by housing and transport.   

The release of the survey findings follows an IWA initiative to host a series of Political Hustings around the country, where local candidates were invited to meet with and hear about the issues that are impacting the lives of people with disabilities at a local and national level.  The last one took place on Friday. 

Members were to the forefront of the interactive sessions held in 10 different locations – Waterford, Portlaoise, Tipperary, Roscommon, Drogheda, Belmullet, Kenagh, Kilkenny, Carlow and Athlone –   and sought a commitment from those candidates in attendance that they would address the issues of concern highlighted in the IWA Local Manifesto if elected. 

The aim of the hustings was to ensure that our members be a part of the conversation during the election campaign and to make candidates aware of the challenges people with physical disabilities are experiencing and the issues that need addressing. 

Joan Carthy said: “Having the voice of people with disabilities at the centre of these hustings was crucial and they were fired up. These sessions were held as a way of informing candidates of the issues but also to make the point that their vote matters. Not only do people with disabilities make up 22% of the population but they have family and friends who are voters. One member said, ‘stop smiling at me and tell me what you will do for me’. Our members were demanding action not false promises.” 

A big thank to you all the members who attended and participated in the hustings , to the candidates for their time, and to our hardworking staff at the ten centres for organising. 

If you encounter any difficulties whilst voting on Friday please let us know by emailing marie.kieransregan@iwa.ie