Disabled woman is ‘prisoner’ in her Limerick home

Daniel Tighe


Daniel Tighe

A SEVERELY disabled young Limerick woman is a “prisoner in her own home” because of inadequate council housing, according to her father.

A SEVERELY disabled young Limerick woman is a “prisoner in her own home” because of inadequate council housing, according to her father.

Tonya Keogh, 20, who lives in Prospect with her parents and two sisters, suffers from cerbral palsy and spina bifida while a dislocated hip confined her to a wheelchair.

After six years on the Local Authority Housing priority list the Keogh family are at their “wits end” with the situation.

John and his wife Christine along with their three daughters have lived in the council house for nearly 20 years.

“She’s like a prisoner in her own home. The only place she can go is her bedroom because she (the wheelchair) can’t fit into the sitting room or kitchen doors and the front door is even too small. She eats, sleeps and goes to the toilet in the one room. She can’t come out. We’ve been on to Town Hall about it,” said John.

The stress of being cooped up all day has led to Tonya biting herself out of frustration. That frustration is almost matched by the exasperation John feels with situation: “Her rights have to be violated by that, everyone has the right to be able to get around their own home.”

The council extended the house in 2002 but failed to make the doorways wheelchair accessible. In 2006 when the property became too small for the specific needs of his family, John once again contacted the housing department of the city council.

“Six years ago we tried to be transferred out of the house because the extension had become too small. They came back and said they would extend the property by six feet, but then they said they couldn’t do that so they would look for property for us. They put us in this small house at the start when they knew the child’s condition.”

Eldest daughter Christine is also severly disabled and suffers from epilepsy: “She’s upstairs and we’re afraid she’ll have a seizure and fall down the stairs. We’re panicking about that as well as everything else. What we’re saying to the Corporation seems to be falling on deaf ears,” said John.

John’s wife Christine is the full-time carer for her two disabled daughters.

“She (my wife) has had enough of it, but it’s the child we’re thinking of, it’s freedom for the child so she can come out and sit down with us so we can all have dinner together,” he said.

“We bought a fish tank to break the rhythm in the room. Just something to occupy her mind while she’s trapped in her room all day.”

The housing department of Limerick City Council were unavailable for comment when contacted by the Limerick Leader.