Pubs, Clubs, Restaurants Have Six Months To Become Accessible And
Avoid Criminal Charges
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 22, 2004
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND--Owners of pubs, clubs and restaurants are being warned that they could face criminal charges if they do not make their facilities accessible to patrons with disabilities in the next six months.
The government's new Goods and Services Act, which requires all premises to be accessible, goes into effect on October 5 of this year. The law allows people with disabilities to file criminal charges against facilities that do not comply with the law.
"Unfortunately people think that they can leave this until October 4 and then maybe start doing something, but by then it will be too late," Kenny Adams, Regional Community Development Manager with Disability Action, told the Belfast Telegraph. "They are supposed to have the work completed by that date."
"This is a question of equal rights. If a bar or restaurant is up steps or upstairs everyone should have the right to access to it," he said.
"We are looking to work in partnership with bars to ensure they meet the requirements ahead of the new law coming in. If they ignore this then they could land themselves in court. So there needs to be change in attitude."
Gerry McClosky, President of the Vitners' Association, said that notices regarding the law will be sent to all local bar and club owners over the next few weeks.
"Many of the bars have been in their present condition with steps for dozens if not hundreds of years," McClosky said. "Bar owners generally do everything they can to assist customers with disabilities and everybody has to obey the law."