A NATIONAL campaign to highlight the abuse of disabled parking spaces by non-badge holders is set to hit Clonakilty today.
The Irish Wheelchair Association’s (IWA) ‘Back in 5’ campaign originates from the throwaway statement that people with disabilities hear all too often when they confront a driver who has parked in a wheelchair-marked space – ‘I’ll be back in five minutes.’
‘The campaign was a huge success when it was rolled out in Tipperary town recently over a couple of hours and it brought awareness to the community about disabled parking,’ said Sinead Burke, service support office with the Clonakilty branch of IWA.
‘We are going to park an empty wheelchair or other mobility aids in an ordinary car space in different parts of the town, and put up a sign saying ‘Back in 5.’
Sinead is keen to stress that the campaign is more about creating awareness of the issue and is not intended as a protest.
‘It’s just creating awareness and getting people not to use that expression ‘Back in 5’. It’s also about fun, too, as people will be looking at empty wheelchairs and wondering why they’re there. But we’ll be there with flyers explaining what the campaign is about.’
The ‘Back in 5’ campaign will run in different parts of Clonakilty town, including the car parks in Scally’s SuperValu and Dunnes Stores, on Wednesday August 15th between 1pm and 2pm and has received the backing of both Cork County Council and the gardaí, and the campaign is also supported by Clonakilty Access Group.
The IWA also wants to remind motorists that it is an offence to park in a disabled parking space without an official Disabled Driver’s Parking Permit.
The offence is dealt with by way of a fixed charge notice of €80, which rises to €120 if not paid within the first 28 days.
‘Alongside this, the misuse of an accessible parking bay can have a significant impact on a driver with a disability who genuinely needs to access the space,’ said a IWA spokesperson.
‘There is no excuse for using an accessible parking bay without a disability parking permit.’