Council budget leaves blind woman stranded


Council budget leaves blind woman stranded

Lack of council funding to install blistered or raised paving at the traffic lights at Clonmel Road, Mitchelstown has left blind woman Susan Burke stranded.

Thursday, 11 April 2013
12:00 AM GMT

Lack of council funding to install blistered or raised paving at the traffic lights at Clonmel Road, Mitchelstown has left blind woman Susan Burke stranded, as she cannot even go to her local shop unaided.

Susan lost her sight five years ago when she contracted TB of the brain, which is very rare and since then, she has been trying to deal with her condition and live independently. However, she says this is impossible if she cannot even cross the road to buy essential items like milk or bread.

Living in Captain Keane's Grove, she is less than a five minute walk from the shop and she uses a stick to find her way there but, left unaided, she could wander onto the road. She told The Avondhu this week that she cannot go on depending on the goodwill of others to help her across the road.

Her husband Eddie helps her around the house and they have put in all of the necessary changes to make sure that Susan can make her own way around the home comfortably, but he said that he is very conscious of keeping things in the same place, always leaving doors open and never leaving obstacles on the floor. 

Eddie and Susan said that the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind asked the council to put the paving in and were told it would be done in January, but now well into April, nothing has been done.

A spokesperson from the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind said that they had requested tactile paving to be put in, as it is essential for Susan to orientate herself and it would be necessary for her safety and independence.

Area engineer, Brendan O'Gorman explained that the council considered the request to have the work done, but could go no further due to lack of funding and he said that while they said it could have been done in January if funding was available, the timeline is now open-ended until the money becomes available.

He added that it would be preferable to get the paving put in, but that they have to be mindful of working with a reduced budget.

The tactile paving consists of the dark red coloured raised dots near traffic lights and crossings which warn blind or visually impaired people that they are approaching a crossing. It also alerts them to the fact that the road begins and ends, so that they don't walk out into an unsafe area.

Eddie added that there are other people from the area who are visually impaired or use a stick to aid them and that the paving is necessary for them as well.

Locala ctivist, 'Rancher' Timmy White told The Avondhu that until the council put the correct measures in place, Susan cannot cross the road.

"It's a disgrace that a young woman who has worked all her life and now finds herself in this situation, cannot get the bare necessities. It's criminal - this would give the woman back her independence," he stressed this week.

Speaking about when she first lost her sight, Eddie said that Susan was in hospital and kept complaining that they kept leaving the lights off and she didn't realise that she was going blind. Within weeks, she had no sight at all.

Susan said that she still lives in hope that one day medical advancements will bring her sight back to her and in a way, that hope is the only thing that keeps her going.

"It's desperate relying on people to take you out all the time. My independence is gone, sometimes I can accept it and sometimes I can't," Susan said.

"I would always be hoping that I would get my sight back. For us it would be better than winning the Lotto," she added.

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