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Woman hits out as ‘blue badge holders forced to join lengthy queues’ in Co Armagh shops

'There just doesn't seem to be any provisions. I know that when you park you cannot exactly show them your blue badge as it must stay in the car but perhaps a second identity card could be provided'

The long and winding queue to get in for your weekly shop is just an accepted part of the ‘new normal’ during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, for some people this may be a task which is much more difficult and for others near on impossible given their health problems.

One Co Armagh woman has spoken about the lack of provisions for blue badge holders in particular when visiting local shops.

The lady, who did not wish to named, told Armagh I she is a blue badge holder awaiting full diagnosis for multiple sclerosis.

Describing her experiences, she said: “I was at Homebase recently, with my husband, and I wasn’t feeling too bad. There was only a little bit of a queue and I didn’t mind it.

“But there was an elderly couple, they could hardly put one foot in front of the other. The security guard watched them parking, with some difficulty, and showed them to the end of the queue.

“I just thought to myself, that’s out of order.”

Similarly at the Range store in Portadown, she said: “I try to pick a quiet time, I am not allowed to drive so I have to go when my husband is about. I had gone to the Range and I queued and queued and queued.

“There was no provisions, not even someone coming to ask. There is no-one until the entrance so you can’t even speak to someone until you get to the top of the queue.”

At the height of the pandemic, this lady had on multiple occasions attempted to contact Asda in Portadown regarding provisions given the length of the queues.

“They were queued round the car park, it was just so long that we turned back and left and because I could not get through to Portadown number for collection or delivery, we ended up getting a delivery from Dundrum.”

On another occasion at the Asda store, she claims she spoke with security who told her she would need to join the back of the queue, despite raising the issue of blue badge holders.

She commented that the old entrance to the store, which is now the exit, is located right beside the disabled parking bays.

“The security guard said there was no queue, when we got inside there were three or four trolleys with five or six people all sanitising, which is great, but to someone who cannot stand for long that still constitutes a queue.”

This woman, was not one of those who received a shielding letter at the start of the pandemic as she did not have a full diagnosis, but these individuals will come out of that 12-week period on July 31.

She said: “It is not going to blow over anytime soon; this is going to be long time issue, my situation is going to get better and for others it might get worse.

“These are high risk people, so they are not going to be browsing – they are going to go in, get what they need and be out

“There just doesn’t seem to be any provisions. I know that when you park you cannot exactly show them your blue badge as it must stay in the car but perhaps a second identity card could be provided.

“I know what I am like, but when I weigh it up, not all of my disabilities are noticeable, but when I think of people who are worse off, I don’t know how they are meant to do it.”

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