A recent ruling before NI’s High Court highlights how the legal actions of an individual can help both effect change and highlight the need for equality in our society.
On 12th May 2017, a blind woman from Lisburn won a landmark High Court challenge against Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s plan to reduce kerb heights in Lisburn city centre as part of the city’s regeneration scheme.
This regeneration scheme is aimed at transforming the streets in the centre of Lisburn and creating new paving and kerbs around the Bow Street and Market Square areas of the city centre.
Joanna Toner had taken a legal case against Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council after fearing that the scheme would result in her being excluded from parts of her own city centre due to the risk of stepping out and being hit by traffic. Joanna commented; “If you can’t tell where the path ends and the road begins you’re just not safe from stepping out into traffic.” She was supported in her challenge by Guide Dogs NI and the Royal National Institute of Blind People in Northern Ireland.
The Court ruled that the Council had breached its legal duty to ensure equality for disabled people, particularly the blind, and quashed the Council’s decision to lower the kerb height.
In his judgment, Mr. Justice Maguire said: “There is clear evidence that the blind or partially sighted as a group of disabled people were likely to be affected by the way the scheme was designed and built.”
Mrs. Toner was delighted with the outcome of the case and commented that; “The Council have to take into consideration the needs of disabled people in every decision they take.”