Kevin “Boxer” Moran T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief has today announced free admission for disabled visitors and their carers into OPW Heritage Sites from the 1st of May this year. Among those sites includes Clonmacnoise, located in offaly.
Speaking about the initiative Minister Moran said, “The OPW is entrusted with looking after wonderful heritage sites and I feel passionately that everyone should be able to enjoy these cultural assets on our doorstep. This includes those with disabilities and I am delighted to announce today that the OPW will, at all its paid admission sites, admit disabled persons and their Carers for free commencing on the 1st of May”.
The announcement comes at the start of the European Year of Cultural Heritage and Minister Moran indicated that he sees this initiative as a direct contribution to the celebration of Heritage. “The theme of the European Year of Cultural Heritage is ‘Make a Connection”. This theme aims to deepen the connection between people and heritage and build a legacy of increased public engagement over time. I am delighted to announce this initiative today so that we can make that connection with those of our visitors who suffer with an impairment. I hope that this will mean that they will be able to more easily visit some of Ireland’s wonderful heritage sites and they will, like so many other people, get huge enjoyment from the experience.”
The Minister also confirmed today that the OPW will be continuing with its progressive approach to the provision of Sign Language tours for deaf and hard of hearing visitors this year with tours organised in a number of locations around the country right throughout the summer. “We are very conscious of the recent move to make Irish Sign Language (ISL) an official language and we aim to continue to improve our services in this area. We have provided tours in ISL since 2016 and will be announcing the dates and venues for our 2018 ISL calendar shortly. This is part of a developing programme and we will hope, in consultation with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community to continue to work to better improve our delivery of excellent services through ISL in the future”.
Minister Moran continued, “I have continued to champion accessibility to OPW heritage sites since I took office and today’s announcement builds on the extremely successful Under 12’s Go Free” initiative I introduced last summer. In its first season of operation, a total of 74,000 children under 12 availed of the scheme which demonstrates just what a great appetite children and their families have for history and heritage. I am delighted to announce that the OPW will continue with this initiative at all their fee-paying sites in 2018 and beyond”.
Minister Moran concluded, “I look forward to engaging with those across the disability sector over the next couple of months to ensure our plans reflect their input as we prepare to launch this fantastic new scheme on 1st May”.