What it is like to have a disability in Ireland

Alan, a wheelchair user with Cerebral Palsy, shares his experience growing up in Dublin.

Written by Alan Fay


Hello, my name is Alan Fay. I’m 25 years old and I’m from Ballymun. I am a wheelchair user with Cerebral Palsy.

Growing up in Ireland was difficult as a person with a disability and it remains difficult. I have always found it hard to get out and about. Oftentimes when I leave my home I encounter issues with footpaths, car parking on pathways, a lack of access to suitable transport and that is just the start.

Seeing Ireland in a different light

I can find the public patronising at times. I have had many uncomfortable and degrading experiences when out in the community. On the other hand, I have met many great people.

I have gotten so much support and friendship from the Irish Wheelchair Association as well as my family, friends and members of the community. I have spent time volunteering in my local community, advocating for people with disabilities and discussing issues around disability on the news and social media platforms. I have taken part in many campaigns and this has helped me see Ireland in a different light in the sense of struggle around accessibility.

This should not be the case in the 21st century. People with disabilities deserve not to face these struggles. I understand that some buildings may be old and unable to be refurbished or redesigned. People with disabilities also struggle to find accessible housing. I don’t see why we are any different. Yes, we may have needs but this should be met when we are applying for a house or housing.

Empty Promises

I love Ireland as a country but we have a pack of empty promises running the country. These politicians push people with disabilities to one side. Do they think, because we have a disability, we don’t have the right to make choices? This is annoying for me and many others to be in such a sticky situation.

As I said in my introduction growing up in Ireland was difficult and remains the same. But, as I also said Ireland is a great place to live at times. What I think needs to be done is more money for additional services, for example, the Irish Wheelchair Association.

Accessible housing and easier application processes. Accessibility is a huge issue for people with disabilities. Buildings can be a struggle for me and my peers to get into. Transport is also a struggle around Ireland. There is much to do and too much to do at the same time.

I hope this story can help many people with disabilities. But also parents of people with disabilities. For any politician reading this story, I’d ask them not to see the disability and see the ability of people with disabilities.

Feeling overwhelmed and want to talk to someone?

If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.

Our work is supported by