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Urgent Need for Changing Places

Green Party TD Steven Matthews has called for urgent progress in providing for more Changing Places in Wicklow. This follows the recent progress report from the Government’s Working Group on the issue. A Changing Places toilet offers larger supported facilities that address the needs of people who may not be able to use standard facilities. These facilities enable people with complex care needs to take part in everyday activities such as travel, shopping, family days out or attending a sporting event.


Discussing the importance of Changing Places, Deputy Matthews said:

“This is an issue that I first brought up in the Dáil in October 2020 following a series of meetings with a group of local carers and supporters who are pushing for these facilities for people who need them. A public consultation, initiated by the Working Group on amending the existing Building Regulations to make provision for more Changing Places in buildings such as hospitals, sports stadiums, roadside service facilities, schools and colleges, shopping centres and hotels was opened last February.


“I am delighted that this attracted over 600 submissions from NGOs, local organisations and families affected by the current lack of Changing Places. Now it is time to act on the recommendations of the Working Group and amend the Building Regulations to enable the construction of Changing Places in public spaces.


“At a local level, I am disappointed that there are no Changing Places in Bray and this reflects the challenges that people with disabilities and their carers face in accessing publicly available toilets that meet their needs. I have engaged extensively with individuals and families affected by this issue and I have met with Wicklow County Council’s Subcommittee on Changing Places.


“Efforts are ongoing by the council and Changing Places are available in Wicklow Town Library and will be available in Avondale House once the works are complete amongst other proposed projects. The families and supporters of this campaign have put in extraordinary work and there needs to be a wholesale change to building regulations rather than having to individually push for specific locations.


“I met recently with representatives from the National Wheelchair Association to discuss the need to further amend building regulations to require wheelchair liveable homes. We need to do so much more to make both public and private spaces more accessible for everyone, and a change to the existing regulations is what is required.


“Ultimately, I am working towards ensuring that Changing Places are included as a basic minimum requirement in building plans in future. This is essential to addressing the barriers that people with disabilities face in their participation in society and fulfilling Ireland’s international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). 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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