Accessible boat on Lough Ree to be featured on RTE's 'Nationwide'

A new 'Access For All' boat designed to facilitate trips on Lough Ree for people with disabilities and mobility issues will be featured on an episode of RTE's Nationwide this evening (Wednesday).

The programme, presented by Anne Cassin, includes a report on the boat which was sourced with the help of significant fundraising in the region.

The unique vessel provides "an adapted, integrated, water-based experience for people with disabilities and mobility issues for the very first time on Lough Ree."

Former RTE Midlands correspondent Ciaran Mullooly was one of the supporters of the 'Access For All' boat project, and last year he and others, including former TD Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, took part in a successful sponsored head shave to raise money for it.

"Time after time, I've seen people on the river bank who have been excluded from going out on boats because it's not possible to lift them or hoist them, or it's not safe.

"But this is not a cheap project. The boat, boat trailer, and insurance all comes to about €185,000," Ciaran told the Westmeath Independent last year.

The boat, which was custom-built in Tallinn, Estonia, is aimed at providing people with disabilities with unlimited access to the waterways of Ireland.

It can carry up to eight wheelchair users and is the only licensed passenger boat of its kind in Britain or Ireland.

* For more details, see this evening's episode of Nationwide which airs at 7pm and will subsequently be available on the RTE Player.