O’Brien wins equality case on inaccessible train station lifts

13th January, 2020

New Green Party TD for Dublin Fingal Joe O’Brien has won a discrimination case against Irish Rail under the Equal Status Acts. Deputy O’Brien took the case against Irish Rail in July of this year when he was a Councillor.

At the time Deputy O’Brien was unable to access the lifts at Balbriggan train station while with his young son in a buggy. Deputy O’Brien complained under the Equal Status Acts to the Workplace Relations Commission who found that he was discriminated against on family status grounds.

Joe pictured with Sean O Kelly and Bernard Mulvany outside Pearse-Station.

Following the decision Deputy O’Brien said:

“I took the complaint because I felt for too long Irish Rail have not been taking the issue of the inaccessibility of their service serious. I heard and continue to hear so many stories of older people and people with disabilities not able to access the rail service because of faulty or inaccessible lifts – it was really for them that I took this case in the summer. When people complain to Irish Rail about this ongoing situation the answers are frankly not good enough.

“The frequency of outages of lifts is also unacceptable. Every day that are roughly 6-8 stations where the lifts are out of order or inaccessible.”

The frequency of outages of lifts is also unacceptable. Every day that are roughly 6-8 stations where the lifts are out of order or inaccessible. Between January 2018 and July 2019 the lifts at Skerries train station were out of order on a total of 27 different occasions. There are a number of issues behind the inaccessibility of services, the move towards unstaffed stations and the lack of investment in lifts or other rail infrastructure.

Another service weakness that impacts on people with disabilities is the very patchy public address system at stations and in trains. Many of us laugh at the incomprehensible nature of some public address system announcements on the rail service. But this can have a real impact for people who are dependent on audio messaging.

I will be contacting the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to see what role they can play in pushing Irish Rail to make its services more accessible to all.

I have been very impressed by the Access for all Ireland group who have been raising the issue of broken Irish Rail lifts across the country and encouraging people to support their campaign for better rail services. The campaign was started by Seán O’Kelly a full-time wheelchair user and Bernard Mulvany the father of a little girl who is also a full-time wheelchair user.”