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Matthews Welcomes Changing Place Facility in ‘Beyond the Trees Avondale’

Deputy Steven Matthews, Green TD for Wicklow, has welcomed the inclusion of an accessible Changing Places facility in Wicklow’s newest visitor destination – ‘Beyond the Trees Avondale.’ Changing Places are larger and supported toilet facilities for people with complex care needs.


Speaking following the official opening of the Treetop Walk near Rathdrum, Deputy Matthews said:

“This is a wonderful new experience in Avondale Forest Park which was opened following a significant re-development project by Coillte in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and EAK Ireland. It includes the longest Treetop Walk in Ireland and the UK and a Viewing Tower where visitors can enjoy the breath-takingly scenic views over the Wicklow Mountains, the Avonmore River and the Vale of Avoca.

“I particularly welcome the opening of a Changing Place facility as part of the site’s amenities. This will make the park much more accessible to individuals and families with disabilities. Changing Places are incredibly important facilities that enable people with additional care needs to take part in everyday activities such as travel, shopping, attending events and enjoying days out with family and friends.

“I have campaigned on the issue of Changing Places since I met with a group of local carers and supporters in October 2020. We need to address the barriers that people with disabilities face and ensure that everyone is supported to become an active member of society with the equal right to participate in work, social and leisure activities. This is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, which Ireland ratified in 2018.

“I have engaged extensively with individuals and families affected by the lack of Changing Places and met with Wicklow County Council’s Subcommittee on Changing Places. I also recently spoke with representatives from the Irish Wheelchair Association to discuss the need to amend the building regulations to provide for more wheelchair liveable homes.

“Ultimately, I am working towards ensuring that Changing Places are included as a basic minimum requirement in building plans in future. I am delighted that a Changing Places facility is now available in Avondale Forest Park and I look forward to the opening of more Changing Places across Wicklow. If anyone is experiencing issues accessing Changing Places, I would encourage them to get in touch with me directly and I will offer any support I can," Deputy Matthews concluded.



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