An incident happened to a member of Ataxia Foundation Ireland recently boarding a flight from Dublin to the U.K and we feel obliged to address it as it wasn’t the first time something like this has  happened and won’t be the last, because of a flawed system.

Niamh Herbert was travelling to the U.K via a Ryan Air flight, (I won’t repost the scenario, you can look it up on Facebook or click the link: Wheelchair user says she was denied boarding to Ryanair flight.
Niamh is a wheelchair user and was left at the gate while her able-bodied friends were allowed on the plane as they didn’t need assistance.  We don’t personally feel Ryan Air were at fault, the pilot has a schedule to stick to. I feel it is the DAA who are ultimately at fault.

It was asked by many during the social media frenzy, that was the closest thing to bullying I have seen on Facebook, if Niamh had checked into the OCS desk, OCS is a sub contracted company that provides passenger assistance, but is pitched as a “complimentary service” a passenger has the option of using it or not, and is not compulsory or standard part of the process for all passengers.

Outsourced Client Services
Please click the link: OCS Ireland

The airport and airlines accept disabled people’s money, the same as everyone else’s and have a moral and legal  duty to facilitate all passengers, let alone a person with an impairment.

Having a different system for one type of person to another is doomed to failure and we can argue about the current process as many times as we want, but I can assure you, it will repeat to infinity and each time people will be upset and traumatised and will achieve nothing.
You would have to ask yourself, with all the checks between entering the airport to the gate, someone would have asked seeing a girl in a wheelchair “Do you want assistance to board the plane”?

If an able-bodied person got to the gate and there were no stairs to the plane, there would be war and rightly so, so why is it ok not to have assistance present at the gate for a person with an impairment? Assistance should automatically be present at all gates for boarding the plane.
Niamh was very brave highlighting this issue in order to help others, we need more people like her.

Please Click the link The Models of Disability

Ataxia Foundation Ireland intend discussing this issue among others with the DAA.