LIMERICK’s Carer of the Year has called on car park operators across the city to stamp out the misuse of disabled parking spots.
Damien Hickey, 33, from Castletroy, provides round-the-clock care to his grandmother Marie who is confined to a wheelchair following a stroke.
He often travels to his local shopping centre at Castletroy to find the spaces reserved for disabled people taken up, by people who are not entitled to use them.
On one occasion last week, he says a taxi driver parked in two disabled spots at the front of the area’s Supervalu store at which point Damien tried to point out that he should not be using that space. This, he says, made him want to raise the issue, with the problem existing across the city.
He said: “Most of the car parks around the city, if you look at them, there are no footpaths to the shopping centres. You have to walk along the road that the cars are travelling on. Obviously, I have to push the wheelchair on the road to the shopping centre, whereas the disabled zone is generally right beside the doors to get in there.”
There are a number of dangers of having to set up a wheelchair, and move his mother into it when parking at the outer reaches of car parks, including cars emerging from blind corners, crushing the wheelchair.
On a more human level, Damien’s mother often does not want to go shopping if she is too far away from the entrance.
“She is left in the car. It is setting her back from getting out, and getting a bit of fresh air away from the house. At least if I in a disabled zone, I could tell her we are right next door to the entrance. If she can see the place, she might be more happy to go,” he explained.
He has already unsuccessfully lobbied management at the Castletroy Shopping Centre, who were not available for comment.