June 2, 2020

New cinema in Kilkenny city comes under fire from disability campaigners

THE new IMC Cinema in Kilkenny city has been heavily criticised by disability groups, politicians and members of the public after it emerged the multi-million development is not “fully accessible”.

Several people took to social media over the weekend to vent their frustration and dismay after wheelchair users reported difficulties accessing the 12-screen movie theatre on Barrack Street.

One wrote: “The main entrance doors are pull open doors. Once you’re inside, there is another set of pull open doors, not enough room for a wheelchair to go through the first set of doors! Try open that door in a wheelchair?”

It was also noted that the wheelchair parking bays in the cinema are opposite the building, further making it difficult to access. And one entrance to the theatre is just steps, with no ramps.

Disability rights activist Linda Comerford of the ‘Enough is Enough – Every Voice Counts’ group, the urged the cinema to “rectify this issue”, saying that “all new builds have to be accessible”.

She added: “Had they taken some time to liaise with the Irish wheelchair association or other relevant bodies this would not happen. Accessibility for wheelchair users, visually impaired, audio impaired or for those with reduced mobility is not a luxury – it’s essential.”

European election candidate, Cllr Breda Gardner, said she was “shocked” to learn the cinema, which opened its doors to the public last week, was not fully accessible.

She added: “I would have thought that they would have been briefed on this necessary requirement. People in wheelchairs want to be able to have independent living.”

Local election candidate Stephanie Hanlon noted that the new cinema does have ramp access, but she said the Building Control Department of Kilkenny County Council have taken a “narrow definition of what qualifies as disabled”.

Ms Hanlon told KilkennyNow.ie: “Under Part M of the Building Regulations 2010, there must be a focus on ensuring that adequate provision shall be made for all people, and not just people with disabilities, to access and use a building, it’s facilities and its environs.

“Such a limited view of all people with disabilities as just wheelchair users excludes other people who consequently face barriers to accessing the cinema, including people with muscular dystrophy or cystic fibrosis.

“Limited access to planning permission places the onus on people with disabilities to be aware of and highlight this where there are additional steps that the Council can take to address this.”

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