The motion was submitted by former Mayor of Cork Cllr Mary Linehan Foley. Photo: Brian Lougheed

'Sunflower' parking spaces called for

A call was made this week for special parking spaces with a sunflower painted on them be provided outside schools for people with hidden disabilities.

It came up during Monday’s meeting of Cork County Council when Independent Cllr Mary Linehan Foley asked: “Can I request Cork County Council to provide special parking spaces at schools in the county for persons with hidden disabilities, similar to existing disability parking spaces.

“These spaces would be clearly marked with a sunflower and lining. These would be courtesy spaces, at the discretion of the public to leave them for use by those with a sensory disability,” she added.

She said people with hidden disabilities often don’t qualify for disabled a parking space or permit and it was done outside a school in Waterford and reports are that it is going well.

The former mayor was said she was contacted about it by some parents in her hometown of Youghal about getting the special parking spaces.

Niall Healy, Director of Service, Municipal District Operations and Rural Development told Cllr Linehan Foley: “Car parking at schools involves a mix of public parking and school’s car parks depending on the location. The priority is that parking is effectively managed.

“We have not had any approaches from school boards of management to date for such designated parking spaces. In order to consider this matter further we need more information, and we will research the concept to see how it is operating in other areas.”

Padraig Barrett, Director of Services, Roads and Transportation said: “The proposal to provide courtesy parking spaces, similar to the Age Friendly Parking Spaces, is not covered by road traffic legislation. It is a matter that may require national or legislative guidance but could be investigated by Roads and Transportation SPC as well as the Social Inclusion, Community & Rural Development SPC.

“Proposal for the creation of these courtesy spaces, could form part of schemes such as the School Streets initiative which was piloted in two areas in the county and also could be looked at under Active Travel proposals for areas around the county, in tandem with boards of management of schools and provided on an agreed and needs basis.”

Cllr Linehan Foley said she would contact the board of management of the Youghal school she previously mentioned to contact the council about it.

Her motion had a lot of support from other councillors including the Mayor of Cork Cllr Gillian Coughlan who said: “A little pot of paint can do wonders.”

Independent Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan said he fully supported the motion adding it was a simple idea that could be rolled out anywhere.

Fine Gael Cllr Eileen Lynch described it as a “worthwhile motion” and said something small like this can make a huge difference in people’s lives.