President Michael D Higgins calls for public support for 'Make Way Day'
"Our republic, if it is to carry the true values of a republic, must be one in which every citizen is afforded that most fundamental right – the right to participate."
President Michael D Higgins has called on members of the public to play their part in reducing obstacles that affect people with disabilities as part of a new awareness campaign.
In tandem with An Garda Síochána and the Disability Federation of Ireland, the Make Way Day '21 initiative aims to encourage easier mobility for those with disabilities.
Gardaí are urging drivers to be conscious of other road users, particularly those with impaired mobility and disability, by asking them to avoid parking on footpaths and to refrain from using designated disabled parking bays without a proper permit.
As part of Operation Enable, Gardaí have targeted offences relating to the improper use of disabled parking bays and parking on footpaths, issuing over 2,200 penalty notices across 2021 so far.
In a video released on Friday (24 September) to mark Make Way Day, President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to disability activists while outlining his vision for a more inclusive nation.
"Our republic, if it is to carry the true values of a republic, must be one in which every citizen is afforded that most fundamental right – the right to participate, to be such a voice in their society and community, as we enable all to participate actively in the shaping of their society," said President Higgins.
"So, today, on Make Way Day, I encourage activists and concerned citizens alike all over the country to reflect and highlight on, for example, those challenges posed to those with disabilities arising from obstacles thoughtlessly being left on the footpath in their way."
Clip via Áras an Uachtaráin
President Higgins noted that while this year's campaign is largely based online due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, he nonetheless is encouraging the public to become involved at local community level in order to highlight issues for the attention of relevant authorities.
"As President of Ireland, I wish to pay tribute to the resolute efforts of disability rights activists across the country through the ages," Higgins continued.
"May I suggest that we draw, for courage and energy, on the success of previous advocates and activists to inspire us on the road ahead."
You can learn more about the Make Way Day initiative here.