Wheelchair ramps at Dún Laoghaire Baths described as 'mountainous' and inaccessible

By Fiona Frawley

January 4, 2023 at 3:46pm

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The ramps have been criticised by a disability activist group and local wheelchair users.

Activist group Access For All Ireland say they have been "inundated" with messages about the "mountainous" ramps at the newly opened Dún Laoghaire Baths.

The Baths, which opened before Christmas after an €18m refurbishment were launched with an emphasis on accessibility - an additional needs bathroom was referenced as an exciting new part of the refurbishment, and Chief Executive of Dún Laoghaire County Council Frank Curran said the project had been "guided by our policy of improving public realm for our communities". But wheelchair ramps at the facility are accompanied by "steep slope" caution signs, and local wheelchair users say they have "never experienced anything worse". 

Wheelchair user Sean has shared videos of himself attempting to use the newly installed ramps, saying "they may as well have built extra walls, because the ramps are as steep as walls".

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Another tweet shared by Access For All shows a picture of the old Baths back in 2016, with photographer Hilda commenting "correct me if I'm wrong but the old ramp here looks more accessible than what ye tried to access yesterday".

A spokesperson for Dún Laoghaire County Council told Lovin that the redevelopment of the Baths had been divided into two phases, with one not yet complete, and said the ramp currently in place at the lower level is temporary and "not fully accessible yet".

The statement reads:

The recently opened Dún Laoghaire Baths represents the completion of the first phase of a larger project. The original plan for the Baths project includes the area that is now open, and also included upgraded walkways between this site and the old East Pier in Dún Laoghaire. Because of the complexity of the overall project, it was divided into two phases, with the upgrading of the walkways being postponed to the second phase. This second phase already has planning permission, and tender documents are currently being prepared which will allow for construction of this part of the project to commence.  

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The site that is now open consists of facilities at street level, mid-level and a lower level amphitheatre. The street level and the mid-level areas are fully accessible, and comply with Part M standards.

The lower level is not fully accessible yet. A temporary ramp has been put in place to provide some level of access to this area, but the Council acknowledges that this ramp is steep in places, and that the lower level is not accessible for some. This will be rectified once Phase 2 of the overall project has been completed. This phase includes the provision of ramps to the lower level of the Baths site which are fully accessible and fully Part M compliant.

Dividing the project into two phases has allowed some of the facilities to be opened to the public much faster than if the entire project had been developed as a single parcel of work, but with the drawback that the site isn’t currently as accessible for all as we would like it to be. This will be rectified by Phase 2, which is a priority project for the Council, and we expect to see contractors onsite working on this phase later in 2023.

Access For All Ireland have asked why the Baths are open at all if they're only accessible for some. Lovin also reached out to the group for comment.

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Header image via Twitter/Access For All Ireland 

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