Belfast Telegraph

Mum denied access to disabled parking space at Windsor for Northern Ireland game

Waringstown mum Zoe Elliott with her daughter Lucy
Waringstown mum Zoe Elliott with her daughter Lucy
Lucy with brothers Jay and Archie

By Eimear McGovern

A mum-of-three from Waringstown has asked why she was denied access to a disabled parking space at Windsor Park, despite having a blue badge.

Zoe Elliott, who has two children with Down's Syndrome, was attending the match between Northern Ireland and Luxembourg at the stadium last Thursday.

She was displaying a blue badge permit, which helps bearers park closer to their destination if they have additional needs. Ms Elliott is the mum of Jay (8), Lucy (6) and Archie (4).

Tickets for the match were bought for the Special Olympics Club, of which Ms Elliott and her children are members.

"We took the car and when we drove up to the barrier [at Windsor Park] and asked could we go down and park closer because we have the kids and two of them are disabled."

"There was a steward who was really friendly and said he'd check for us but his manager said they were all full.

"We ended up having to park at Harvey Norman.

"Jay has a complex heart condition and he has a pacemaker."

Ms Elliott's partner Alan ended up having to carry the eight-year-old because he struggled to walk that far.

She was shocked to then arrive at the stadium to see "at least 10" disabled parking spaces in front of the Olympia Leisure Centre - many of which were empty but which were cordoned off by a security barrier.

She said: "When we got there we could see there were loads of spaces - I don't see what the issue was.

"I know they have to be careful about crowd safety but there were loads of other cars there in non-disabled spaces that obviously had to be driven down."

Ms Elliott said when she left the match, the spaces were still there but nobody was parked in them.

"I don't know if there's a lack of communication between stewards and staff up at the stadium but the parking is definitely below par," she said.

"To be honest, I'd be reluctant to go back to Windsor knowing that disabled parking isn't accommodated."

A spokesperson for the Olympia, which is operated by Greenwich Leisure Limited, said the IFA is the responsible body for parking arrangements on match days.

"When it comes to match days, GLL hand over control of the driveway and car park approximately three hours prior to kick off," he said.

The IFA was not able to provide a response.

Belfast Telegraph


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