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Sunday 11 December 2016

'Haircut more important' than special needs adults waiting on bus for over 30 minutes

Mum of little boy with disabilities told Liveline she was left 'shaking with rage'

Aisling was visiting the hairdresser's to get her son's hair cut when she noticed the bus parked outside the salon
Aisling was visiting the hairdresser's to get her son's hair cut when she noticed the bus parked outside the salon

A mother of a little boy with disabilities has spoken of her horror at special-needs adults left waiting inside a bus for over 30 minutes while their carer got his hair cut.

"I was shaking with rage," Aisling McNiffe told Joe Duffy on Liveline this afternoon.

Aisling was visiting the hairdresser's to get her son's hair cut when she noticed the bus parked outside the salon.

"As time went on, I was kind of getting concerned about the bus," she said.

She wondered if perhaps the driver was getting his hair cut but quickly dismissed the thought.

"I said to myself don't be silly, nobody could do that."

However, she told the RTE Radio 1 show that the driver was, in fact, getting his hair cut and had left the three adults waiting for over 30 minutes.

Another carer was sitting inside the bus, but according to Aisling, he wasn't interacting with the adults he was charged with looking after.

"They could have been bored, they could have been hungry, they could have been thirsty," said Aisling.

She approached the carer inside the bus to ask why his colleague had decided to get his haircut in the middle of his shift.

The carer, a young man she believed to be in his 20's, appeared embarrassed and she felt he tried to make excuses for the driver by claiming that they didn't have time for their breaks that day.

A shocked Joe Duffy compared the situation to a normal Dublin bus driver interrupting his route to get his haircut.

"There'd be uproar," he said, if that had happened.

Aisling said that the people on the bus were all men with what appeared to be severe to profound disabilities.

They seemed to be non-verbal and Aisling doesn't believe that they would have been involved in the decision process.

"It's as if people with disabilities are not equal," said Aisling.

It was a rare sunny day and she was shocked to see that their carers would leave the three dependant adults stuck inside a bus, instead of taking them out to enjoy the good weather.

"I am furious and I will not let this go," she said to Liveline.

"We have to advocate for people who are vulnerable," she added.

"It's as if people with disabilities are not equal. [The carers] are paid to look after these people and give them respect and have compassion and empathy - that's why [they're] in this job."

Another caller, Andrea, voiced similar outrage and explained that, as a mother of a child with disabilities herself, she was fearful that her child could end up in a similar situation.

"Hearing things like this makes a parent very fearful," she said.

The callers praised the good work of carers across the country but fellt that a situation like this cannot go ignored.

"It's disgraceful to think that a haircut was more important than the people on the bus," said Andrea.

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