Disabled GAA fans crying foul over Brewster facilities

WHEELCHAIR users are struggling to enjoy GAA games at Brewster Park due to issues with the ground’s disabled seating areas. 
There are currently two disabled areas at the home of Fermanagh GAA, one on the ‘far side’ stand, and another at the John Vesey stand on the ‘near side’. However users have said the far-side area is too far away, leaving those in wheelchairs disconnected from the atmosphere of home matches, while the smaller, more popular area in front of the Vesey stand is too low down, meaning those in wheelchairs are struggling to get a good view of the action. 
Alice McDermott, who regularly attends matches with her disabled daughter Louise, explained: “If you’re a wheelchair user, you still want to be in with the crowd, but if you go to the far side you’re too far away. 
“You want to be on the same side as your family, friends and neighbours. You want to be integrated, whereas if you’re on the other side you have no involvement and you’re completely isolated.”
Alice said the near-side area was better as it was easily accessed from the disabled parking area, however she said the issue there was that it was simply too low down. 
“If that stand was raised it would be fine,” said the Lisnaskea woman, who said about half the clubs in the county would have fans who use wheelchairs. “Because it’s so low down, though, you struggle to see over and there is a lot of people traffic before, during and after the match. People are coming in and out from when you go in until you leave. 
“When there is a bigger match, the area will be filled with stewards, the press, and the two teams when there are two matches, who are coming in and out watching the other games. It wouldn’t be an issue if it was raised, you wouldn’t miss anything with the people walking past and going up and down.”
Alice and others affected by the issue met with the Ulster Council a few years ago to discuss the issue, and in more recent times they met with both the Fermanagh County Board and Enniskillen Gaels. 
She stressed Brewster Park fully met with disabled legislation, with toilets, parking and access meeting regulations, and added that in their meetings the Ulster Council, County Board and Enniskillen Gaels had all been very understanding about the issue. 
“We’re just asking them for a favour, really,” she said.
Alice added she really felt for her daughter Louise, who is 29 and has been attending matches “for at least 20 years”, and others. 
“Wheelchair users have the same right to be there as anyone else,” she said. “My heart goes out to them, they’re not getting the same crack of the whip as the rest of us.”
County chairman Patsy Dolan, who has met with Alice, said the County Board were currently in the process of seeing how to address the issue. 
“These things take time, but there is a plan to upgrade it. 
We’re in the process of seeing what can be done,” he said, adding they would be seeking the help of engineers. “Work is ongoing.” 


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