Independent Media Centre Ireland

Council needs to consult with Disabled Community

category mayo | health / disability issues | press release author Friday April 14, 2006 15:10author by Cllr Keith Martin - Labour Member Westport Town Council

Westport Town Council should be leading the way in the area of Disability Access
Consultation with disabled required
Consultation with disabled required

With respect to disability access in Westport there is no more qualified to advise us on the issue that the disabled of this town.

There is no point to unilateral action being taken on the matter. We need to consult and work with the disabled and their representatives and organizations in the town if we are to make any progress on this issue.

7% of our population has a disability of one form of another and as the population ages this number will increase.

Westport’s progress in this matter has stalled. We set up a Disability committee in July 2005 and that committee has never met. I have no interest on serving on a committee that never meets. Worse again those disabled people and their representatives grow increasing frustrated with our lack of progress and near complete lack of communication. Meeting after meeting has been postponed.

Now no doubt the Town Clerk or Town Manager can reel off a number of initiatives with regard to increasing access in the town that we have undertaken since July 2005 but they are meaningless if they are done without consultation with those affected most by them. And I can assure this council that no matter how long the list of achievements is it is dwarfed by the list of things that need to be done.

I am aware that the Family Resource centre are facilitating a Disability Access Committee and this is now setting about contacting and working with businesses in the town towards increasing access. It is a shame that one of the organizations which is slowest to come on board is Westport Town Council which signed up to the Barcelona Declaration in 2003 yet has not meet with this committee.

Westport Town Council should be leading the way in the area of Disability Access yet it seems we have to be dragged. If there is no action by our May meeting then I will be quitting our Barcelona Committee.

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Comments (22 of 22)

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author by Seán Ryanpublication date Tue Apr 18, 2006 17:18author address author phone

Hi Keith,
You are the second person I've read on Indy who has suggested that the disabled should be consulted about access issues. I meant to reply to this article earlier last week but didn't have the time. Allow me to remedy this now.

Allow me to be blunt Keith.

I don't for a minute believe in your sincerity. I reckon you read a fine article by a Mr. John Aherne, who also suggested that the disabled should be consulted in these issues. Accessibility within Ireland in the 21st century

All you have done is to parrot Mr. Aherne and you didn't even have the decency to follow up with 'your' suggestions on his story. Instead you built yourself a platform where you announced that you were a champion for the disabled.

You have yet to talk to a disabled person yourself. You moan that the council has postponed meetings with the disabled. What stopped you from meeting them anyway?

Threatening to quit?

What a load of bollocks.

Why not threaten to quit Labour or the Council?

By the way is your office accessible?

I might just arrange a meeting for you. Since you yourself lack either the ability or the intent.

Yours upwardly,
Seán Ryan

author by Keith Martinpublication date Tue Apr 18, 2006 19:17author address author phone

Dear Sean,

Please check your facts before posting. You should certainly double check your facts before making the allegations and comments such as you have in your post above.

For years now I have worked closely with disability groups and the disabled in my town and your comments are both unwarrented and uniformed.

You are obviously very upset and maybe this kind of post is out of character for you but you really should not attack people like that.

If you want to know more about me check out my website or contact the Westport Family Resource Centre etc and ask about me.

Wishing you all the best

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Tue Apr 18, 2006 20:29author address author phone

Well Keith, the truth is I am upset. But being upset does not cause me to be stupid or to act stupidly. But I appreciate your prompt response, that at least shows you are not afraid to walk into a line of fire. There may be hope for you.

I've checked the links you gave again. I checked them thouroughly before writing a reply to you.

I stand by what I said.

Every bit of help you talk about has yet to happen. I'd be very happy if you'd post something you've actually done. Other than talking. Talk is very cheap. Particularly since everytime you do so you post a link telling people to vote for you. It seems to me that you must have a very low opinion of people in general.

You didn't even bother to answer my question about whether your office was accessible.

More listening, some action and you can lose the lip service.

Oh yeah, screw Barcelona. This is Ireland and our issues with the disabled are as plain as the nose on your face.

By the way I'm not disabled, so feel free to be robust in your defence, you won't offend me by defending yourself.

You offend me by offering the tripe you offered as proof of your commitment to the disabled.

I intend to contact the family resource centre like you suggested. But I must admit I'm very curious as to what they are going to say about your record with regard to services to the disabled are concerned.

Would you like to tell me what it is I should ask them about?

Things will be a lot smoother if I know what I'm looking for and I've no desire to waste the time of this group by going on a fishing expedition.

Look forwards to hearing from you. And I even look forwards to apologising to you. I'd love to have my fears shown to be paranoid delusions.


author by Keith Martinpublication date Tue Apr 18, 2006 20:40author address author phone

Dear Sean,

I don't care what your abilities are or are not, I will treat you just the same.

You don't know what you are talking about. You have not contacted anyone in Westport and you don't seem to be too interested in doing so.

You say I have not met with people? How do you know?

In fact I meet regularly with relevant people and committees. I have worked to get more disabled bays in the town and to increase access to buildings etc.

My point was that the council was not meeting its obligations under the Barcelona Declaration.

You like to have a go so off you go. It is obvious to me from you post that you are not aware of the issues or the role of the Barcelona Declaration in providing a frame work for consulation with local authorities etc. You don't know what you are talking about so I won't waste my time debating with you.

All the best

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Tue Apr 18, 2006 22:01author address author phone

Dearest Keith,

Does "I don't care what your abilities are or are not, I will treat you just the same." equate with "You don't know what you are talking about so I won't waste my time debating with you."?

You say I haven't bothered to contact anyone in Westport. You don't live or work in Westport then?

Allow me to point out that it was you who suggested I contact people in Westport, you did so after 6pm. I'd have contacted them there and then if it had been possible. But rest assured I'll be onto it first thing in the morning. And be further assured that I'll be straight back here with the results.

I called the Barcelona Declaration irrelevent. You shouldn't take this to mean I'm not familar with it. But then again I'm not too surprised seeing that your imagination guides most of what prompts you to speak 'factually.' I said disability issues were very obvious in Ireland and meant that the Barcelona Declaration did nothing to heighten this fact. As you said it provides a framework for consultation. However you also said that fuck all is happening in this regard, so you yourself have found it to be irrelevant and quite useless. I suppose you could counter this by saying that it's not the Barcelona Declaration that is non functional, that it's you. Is this what you think?

I see that you meet regularly with 'relevant' people and committes. Sounds like someone trying to figure out the difference between 'valid' and 'invalid' to me.

You have worked to get more disabled bays in the town and to increase access to buildings etc. What is the name of the disabled consultant you consulted with in regard to this work? Remebering that you have just promoted this practice of consulting with the disabled re: accessibility. Twould be nice if you yourself had taken your own advice. I'm betting that's on the long finger too. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Your point was that the council was not meeting its obligations. You're on the bloody council and therefore you are not meeting your obligations either. And bitching about it isn't fixing it, nor is it helping the disabled.

All in all Keith I have to say that your effort thus far is piss poor. And that I won't be reccomending you for election.

Would you like to tell me what issues I am unaware in as far as the disabled are concerned. You say I'm deficient, but you don't say how. Isn't it the case that I've dared to question your motives that has you upset. You after all have no more of a clue as to what I know or don't know than you have displayed about disabled issues.

And finally there has been no debate. You should realise this, because if there had a been one you'd have lost it.

Get well soon

author by Keith Martinpublication date Wed Apr 19, 2006 00:26author address author phone


It is clear to me that you are not familiar with either the issue or the town.

You have questioned my character, my motive and my achievements and you don't know enough about me or the issue to do so.

It really is not on. Neither is the bad language. It is neither mature or necessary to use such language. I have been polite and tried to explain the issues but you are only happy at having a go at me.

Why I don't know. You admit you are upset; but not with me I trust!

If you want to do your homework on Westport and Disability access in the town I will be happy to debate and discuss it with you then.

Until then all the best


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author by John Ahernepublication date Thu Apr 20, 2006 16:37author address author phone

“With respect to disability access in Westport there is no more qualified to advise us on the issue that the disabled of this town.”

Absolutely mind blowing idea. Did you come up with that all by yourself?

“We set up a Disability committee in July 2005 and that committee has never met”

What’s the point in setting it up? How many disabled people are on the committee?

“Worse again those disabled people and their representatives grow increasing frustrated with our lack of progress and near complete lack of communication. Meeting after meeting has been postponed.”

Your lack of progress is not the fault of anyone else. How does one expect change when people can’t even be bothered to turn up for meetings? And with the lack of communication, does this not open your eyes to the fact that the committee members chosen for this task have not a notion of getting off their rear ends and they need to be shown the door and be replaced by someone who is capable of doing the work at hand.

“And I can assure this council that no matter how long the list of achievements is it is dwarfed by the list of things that need to be done.”

I am familiar with Westport and surrounding areas and what is considered as “accessible” I had the pleasure of frequenting a hotel not too far from there and guess what. “door wide enough to get in, hotel en suite not catered for the disabled and to top it off if I wanted to use the restaurant for my meals I had to make my way up a flight of about ten steps” but not to worry it's propably on the to do list. I would like to see this long list of achievements.

All I can see is what happens day in, day out. People making promises that they don’t keep, long lists of proposals as to what they want done and what they are going to do. One of these days someone is going to stand up and say ”this is a list of the things I said I was going to do and this is what I got done while I was elected” rather than “have a look at my list, cool isn’t it, I reckon I covered everyone in relation to getting their vote so lets sit back and see what happens”

Setting up committee’s that don’t meet, talking about resigning if things don’t get done.


author by M Cottonpublication date Thu Apr 20, 2006 18:37author address author phone

...and I have to say it again - this whole debate is fundamentally about rights for people with disability. Unless there is a legally enforceable obligation on councils, hospitals etc etc the situation will never improve. Rights-based legislation cuts to the chase - it will eliminate the arguing and the useless committees.

I met with Kathleen Lynch, Labour Party spokesperson on disability a few weeks ago. I have no doubt she is personally very committed to rights for people with disability, but her party has yet to declare itself on this issue now that Fianna Fail have done the filthy deed on behalf of the other main parties by introducing the Disability Act 2005 and Education of Persons with Special Needs Act 2004.

It is surprising how, even within the lobby, so few people are drawing the connection between this legislation and the difficulties they are experiencing everywhere. People need to wake up and realise its the law the ultimately decides everthing and as K Sinnott has put it, this legislation has been designed with sole objective of 'protecting' government funding from people with disability.

What has become apparent from speaking to both Labour and Sinn Fein is that their strategy is one of stressing what their previous position was leading up to the introduction of the legislation (all stridently pro rights-based legislation) but being very careful not to make any definitive statement about what they will do about these two disgraceful Acts, if they get into power. This is a frustrating and angering state of affairs. And if this is still the case come the election, the only thing to do is at least to punish Fianna Fail in the first instance. If we can make an example of them, at least, it will be a clear signal to whoever succeeds them, that more of the same is what lies in store if they dont make a priority of putting things to rights.

author by Keith Martin- Councillorpublication date Thu Apr 20, 2006 19:12author address author phone

Hello John,

I am glad you agree with my posting which states "Council needs to consult with Disabled Community"

This is the point I have been trying to make. I have been trying to get the council to consult with the disabled about the issues but so far I am only one voice in nine on our council. that is why I post here to create awareness of the issue.

You ask "How does one expect change when people can’t even be bothered to turn up for meetings?" Exactly my point.

You say "One of these days someone is going to stand up and say ”this is a list of the things I said I was going to do and this is what I got done while I was elected” Check out my website, my polices are on line as is my Election manifesto from 2004.

I am glad to see we agree on all the points in my post. My problem is getting the issue accross the majority of the councillors and officials who feel we are doing a good job.

Unilateral action by the council without consulting with those affected is the big problem in Westport but through forums like this and the media I will continue to highlight the lack of consulation.


PS with regard to the Disabilities Act I campaigned against it and will be working towards having it replaced with a Rights based Act rather than a needs based Act.

I have included a link concerning Labour's policy its is old but I have no reason to think it has changed. You are right when you say we need a commitment to review the policy in the light of the passing of Acts.

Related Link:
author by John Ahernepublication date Fri Apr 21, 2006 22:47author address author phone

Hello Keith

My apologies for taken so much time in replying to your comment. There were a number of reasons as to why but the one that takes priority over all others was the absolute dumb founded taste left in my mouth after I regurgitated your inadequate reply.

You are one voice in a group of nine, it’s obvious that your fellow council men just ignore you. Can your voice utter the words “stand down” to the other eight and make room for a council that has an interest in their community?

I have visited your site and I must admit it prompted me to make my own list of “things to do”. I have not seen anything accomplished, nor do I hold out much hope in seeing things been rectified until the disability act of 2005 is shoved up the arse of it’s makers.

Let me reiterate what was stated in earlier posts as to which you neglected to answer.

1. By Seán Ryan :You have worked to get more disabled bays in the town and to increase access to buildings etc. What is the name of the disabled consultant you consulted with in regard to this work? You failed to answer.
2.By Seán Ryan : By the way is your office accessible? You failed to answer.
3.How many disabled people are on the committee? You failed to answer.
4.Elaborate as to what on the long lists of achievements were made. You failed to answer.

“PS with regard to the Disabilities Act I campaigned against it “

Your voice just doesn’t seem to be loud enough.


author by Keith Martin- Councillorpublication date Sat Apr 22, 2006 00:20author address author phone

Hi John,

I am doing my best.


author by John Ahernepublication date Sat Apr 22, 2006 01:48author address author phone

Link to the Disability act in pdf format

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author by M Cottonpublication date Sat Apr 22, 2006 12:51author address author phone

Nobody here is fooled.

Keep in mind, for instance, Peter McKenna who died in appalling circumstances at Leas Cross nursing home because he was so badly neglected there. When things had gone too far, and only a week after he had been moved in sound physical health, to Leas Cross by St Michael's House, against his family's wishes and at the insistence of SMH CEO (pal of Bertie's and to my knowledge a more or less failed businessman with no prior experience of this sort of home before he was appointed ). St Michaels Home, which is a specialist facility had actually block-booked beds at Leas Cross - which is an ordinary nursing home and has no expertise in caring for people such as Peter - in anticipation of farming people out to cheaper facilities. Who had they in mind, you wonder?

Now bear in mind, that rather than learn from this tragic outcome, and recognising that it is medically inappropriate and cruel to move such people toward the end of their lives into unsuitable facilities, it has actually become accepted policy. Money is being saved, you see. While another tragic death such as this one is hopefully unlikely, by definition people will be needlessly suffering in many ways simply by virtue of being in homes that are incapable of looking after them properly. There are a thousand indignities and abuses happening right now and as one delegate at the recent Inclusion Ireland conference put it 'it is horrifying to contemplate'. But contemplate it we all must because, for example, in many instances people are unable to express their needs for themselves and must tolerate whatever comes.

Also bear in mind the treatment of those staff who raised concerns within SMH at the time and the ongoing court battle of one of them to expose the truth of what has happened to himself and others.

And finally bear in mind, even after all of this had been exposed, the willingness of Bertie Ahern to turn up as guest of honour at a SMH function, even while he knew that Peter McKenna's family were (and still are) trying to establish the truth of what happened to Peter. I keep thinking that we have maybe gotten to the edge of how insulting people can be about people with disability, but there is always someone ready to take it further.

If you want to convince us, Keith, put it to your Labour party managers that unless they will agree, formally, to scrap the Disability Act and the EPSEN Act (they were artificially divided and are really the same legislation) you will resign from the Party. That would be a meaningful and principled gesture. Ask your colleagues to do the same. Stand as independents over this issue and we will vote for you.

author by John Ahernepublication date Thu Apr 27, 2006 04:24author address author phone

Hello Keith,

I have been doing a bit of thinking with regards to your article and your lack of answers to any question posed.

At first I thought to myself “oh look, yet another politition jumping on the bandwagon and talking about issues which are never going to see the light of day once elected”. But then I thought” wait a minute; this bloke might actually have a sincere bone in his body”.

So let’s put it to the test and see if we can get the ball rolling on making things happen rather than sitting in front of a computer and making long winded lists of “things to do”.

I put it to you Keith, that we make arrangements to meet in your office in Westport, (assuming that it’s wheelchair accessible). To discuss the issues you pride yourself on and to see if your true to your word.

Please, do not waste my time in replying to this post if you only intend in airing the difficulties that the disabled have in your community. Also I live in Tipperary so as you can see it’s quiet a distance from Westport so I don’t fancy the 5-6 hour drive up to listen to bullshit (pardon my French).

So let me apologize in advance to Indymedia for the language I’m about to use(although warranted).

I put it to you Keith, to cut out the bullshit, stand and be counted as someone who got off their arse and actually got something done rather than bitching about being only one voice and bitching about meetings that don‘t happen and committee members who do nothing. Get your balls back and make a name for yourself and be one of the few politicians who can be true to their word. It’s time to pay the piper, “put up or shut the fuck up, one or the other”.

Ball is in your court!


author by Seán Ryanpublication date Fri May 05, 2006 07:35author address author phone

Howdy folks.

I see that Keith Elvis Martin is still keeping his head in the sand on this.

Well let me confirm for you that Keith isn't ill and he's not on Holiday.

Keith updated his site a couple of days ago.

He updated a piece by me this morning too under his sometimes used id 'elvis.' But that's neither here nor there.

Here's his latest addition to his site - it runs an incredible counter point to his article and subsequent 'arguments' here. He's defending his fellow layabouts this time round.


author by Seán Ryanpublication date Fri May 05, 2006 08:17author address author phone

Dear sir/madam,
My name is Seán Ryan and I'm writing to you to provide you with some information that you may not have.

You recently ran a piece titled: "Had a chat with..." By Stephan O'Grady.$showpage?value1=335495258287365&
(Indy readers will have to copy & paste the above two lines into their address bar and join them together to be able to make the link to be able to read the article or just go to Keith's link below and follow the link he provides.)

Councillor Keith Martin has written a reply to this piece where he defends his fellow councillors. I've no idea if you've printed this or not. I came by your article via Keith's website.

Keith Martin has also written elsewhere, and contradicts the views he expresses in reply to your article. Keith is a sometimes contributer to Indymedia.

This particular link might be worth taking a look at, please forgive my language and tone in the piece but I honestly didn't take Mr. Martin seriously from the get go and I wanted to see how far he would take things. Anyway you will see that Keith has set himself up as a champion for the disabled at the expense of his fellow councillors, and yet when an actual disabled person, a Mr. John Aherne gets involved and offers to accomplish the very idea Keith is proposing, Keith ignores him and is waiting for him to go away.

Here's that particular Indymedia link.

Sean Ryan

author by John Ahernepublication date Sat May 27, 2006 11:45author address author phone

Dearest Keith

Since I now know you’re a tad bit sensitive I’ll go easier on you this time and I’ll even break it down so even you can understand.

I still stand by what I said in my last comment, which you tried so hard to have removed (my apologies to the editors for having to listen to him whinge). Yes I do think this article is useless and still you waste server space with your drivel and to the editors, I’m not playing the man, I’m going straight for the ball, Mr. Martin has stated that the Council needs to consult with the disabled.

Mr. Martin, you are a councillor, I have a disability, now consult with me.

author by Keith Martinpublication date Sat May 27, 2006 13:47author address author phone


After all the abuse you have heaped on me over the internet I have no desire to meet with you in person or debate with you on this forum.

The posts above will give other readers an idea of the kind of abuse and they can only imagine the stuff that was removed!

If you are sincere in wanting to debate with people you must respect the person no matter how little you respect their views.

Good Luck

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Sat May 27, 2006 15:21author address author phone

I think you'd find Keith - if you were to take the blinkers off - that it was I who 'abused' you. I think most people reading this piece in its entirety would agree with my views on you, but maybe that I'd been a little rough with you. I don't think I was rough enough. Afterall, you called for something to be done. I called you on this and you proved yourself to be a complete waste of my valuable time. In your replies to me the only issue you ever addressed was my right to put a question to you and the manner in which I did so. When offered the chance to actually do something, you used your imagined sense of honour to avoid having to do anything. You've given me and the disabled community reason to believe that if I'd kissed arse things would have been different. Sorry Keith, but that's not the way it works. You're a public servant, not a master. And the sooner you learn your place the sooner we can all get on with the finer things in life.

You have shown through you vacuous ignorance and contempt for you fellow human beings, that firstly you have not a clue as to the concept of equality and secondly that you have contempt for the disabled.

Mr. Aherne put some questions to you that disagreed with what you'd written and written in reply to me. You then posted a reply claiming that Mr. Aherne had agreed with you. This was blatently dishonest and completely lacking in either respect or manners. Your whole approach to Mr. Aherne was an enforcement of the 'no access' for the disabled policy, that this country holds the patent for. And you have much nerve in being offended by his approach. (try reading your own article again to get an idea of how frustrated disabled people are.)

Your final 'reply' to Mr. Aherne takes the biscuit. You mewl about 'respect.' A man who respects another who is not deserving of it is a coward at best. Manners are free but respect costs. Your actions with regard to this fraudulent piece of trash that you've submitted to Indy have shown that you possess neither manners nor are you due respect.

In finality Keith (cause I'm more sick of talking to you and the likes of you, than you could ever hope to imagime), I don't want to talk to you anymore. You're just not worth the effort. However you are worth talking about as an example.

So don't despair you just might get famous yet. For what it's worth, you've convinced me of the need to make you famous. You'll be a shining example for all in Labour to follow.

Well I can't say it's been fun, cause I'd be lying. But I promise it has been educational and will be. So that's not so bad is it?

Seán Ryan

author by Cllr Keith Martinpublication date Sun May 28, 2006 05:19author address author phone


author by John Ahernepublication date Mon May 29, 2006 20:50author address author phone

I couldn't have put it better myself Seán.

Personally I feel dirtied by this article and it has taken up enough of my time.

Many thaks

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Mon May 29, 2006 22:58author address author phone

Hi John.

I'd hate for you to have the Indy experience and to have to go away feeling sullied.

I know you agree with Miriam about rights based laws. I do too. I suppose where I part company with the two of you is that I believe this legislation already exists, whereas the two of you want it to be created.

Logically, if new law needs to be drafted to guarantee your rights, equality will be uncertain. Laws that apply to different people in different ways are a recipe for inequality in my opinion. I'd say to you John, that our constitution recognises you as an equal, and anyone who says otherwise or ensures otherwise is acting in a manner repugnant to the constitution.

The preamble covers both of us equally, and guarantees a place in Irish society for both of us. To attempt to exclude you because of the chair is to act unlawfully. We've discussed this the odd time or three I know, but I think it important to put this into print. You never know - a politician with some balls and intellect might spot it an say to himself, 'hey - he's right! - let's fix this!!' as opposed to just bitching about it.

Another area of the constitution that covers your rights is Article 40. In my not so humble opinion this article at the very least should be a compulsary subject of discussion in all schools. To the disenfranchised it should be like a quote from the bible to a devout christian.

Every right that is stripped from you can be shown to be unlawful when compared to Article 40. I've been mumbling about article 40 for some time now, as have others. It's beginning to be heard too. Our constitution has been in the news a few times in the last few weeks. Article 40 in particuar. It'll be in the news again in the next few days as paedophiles invoke it in the hope of being freed from prison. Let's hope that judges have more sense than Mcdowell and argue that victims of paedophiles have Article 40 to protect them too. Although I'd not bank that this will happen. But I digress.

So like I said - Rights based legislation is the way to go - but - it already exists. Most of the other legislation based on the disabled is a smokescreen that blurs the relevance of Article 40.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this, particularly on Article 40.

Remeber it's all about the way you argue it and not about the argument itself.

Let's look at the usual scenario in an unusual but nonetheless 'valid' way.

People construct buildings, in the full knowledge that disabled people exist. If their buildings do not facilitate your entry and usage you could and should argue that the 'builders' deliberately constructed the building in question so that you would be excluded. Malice aforethought and all that good stuff.

Article 40.

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