A SHANNON woman, who suffers from a breathing condition and holds a disabled parking permit, found a note saying ‘I didn’t realise that retarded people could take disabled spots’ when she returned to her car in Ennis last weekend.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, is in her ’50s and suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
“It’s a breathing condition and as a result of that, I need to use oxygen. I can’t walk for long distances. I can’t walk up hills, that sort of thing, but you wouldn’t know it to look at me,” she told The Clare Champion.
“On Sunday we were going out to lunch, my daughter and myself, and we were kind of dressed up for going out. We parked the car and when we got back, this note was on it. I was really upset about it.
“I have worked in the disability sector as an advocate for people with disabilities. I would be very annoyed at people who use designated parking spaces when they’re not eligible to use them.
“When it was suggested that I apply for the parking badge, I had to go to my doctor and get a medical cert to say that I was unwell enough to warrant this badge. Then I had to send this off to the Irish Wheelchair Association and they issued it to me,” she added, explaining how she received the disabled parking permit.
The woman said while her condition is not immediately obvious, there is a valid reason why she has the disabled parking pass. She said if someone doubted its validity they should have approached her, rather than leaving such a note.
“I do a lot. I’m not incapacitated as such but when I have a flare-up of my condition, I can’t walk to the front door. That’s why I have the badge. The badge was on the dashboard, it was displayed. That’s what got to me.
“The other thing was that someone would make a judgement like that about people using a space. Why didn’t they approach me and ask me what I was doing in the space?”
She was also very unhappy with the use of the word ‘retarded’. “I’ve worked with people who have intellectual disabilities and I felt it was very insulting to them as well. We’re trying to get away from that kind of language,” she said.