Sports facilities must cater for the disabled
Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has called for more facilities in recreation and sports centres for people with disabilities and special needs.
Mr McMullan said:
“It is important that people with disabilities and special needs are given access to recreation and sports facilities on the same basis as abled body people.
“Many of the disabled take part in sports as competitors or as recreation while others participate in keep-fit programmes or as part of physiotherapy.
“The recent Paralympic games highlighted the ability of people with disabilities and special needs to compete at the highest level of sports and these athletes need the same access to facilities as able-bodied competitors.
“At present many centres do not have the proper facilities to deal with people with disabilities or special needs.
“While many councils have made improvements these have been to meet minimum standards rather than meeting the actual requirements of disabled groups.
“At present Disability Sport is running an accreditation scheme for councils yet out of 26 council areas only one is accredited and another 6 waiting accreditation.
“This leaves 19 who have not even registered to the scheme, which is totally unacceptable.
“I have raised the issue today in the Assembly and I am calling on all councils to engage with Disability Sports to ensure all their facilities meets the needs of these groups.
“I welcome the fact that the Minister Carál Ní Chuilin announced during the debate that all new stadia will have the highest standards in meeting the needs of people with disabilities and special needs athletes.
“I would also call on all Ministers to ensure that Section 75 equality is implemented in all facilities across the North.”