Omagh Enterprise’s Dermot Is New Chair of Omagh Access Forum

Greencastle man Dermot Devlin has taken over the reins as chair of Omagh Access Forum, but admits his predecessor Bob Lingwood will be “a hard act to follow.”

Omagh Access Forum is made up of 22 members, from many disabled groups across the district, who meet in the office of Leonard Cheshire Disability bi-monthly. The group ensures that local facilities and amenities have full disability access.

Dermot has been a member for the past three years since he was introduced to the forum by Mary O’Brien, the author of  ‘Not A Leg To Stand On’.

He says the group can take great pride in its many achievements over the years, such as helping the Strule Arts Centre achieve an ‘Arts and Disability Equality Charter Plaque of Excellence.’ This was the first to be awarded anywhere on the island of Ireland.

Dermot is excited about his new role and is also keen to pay tribute to the legacy of his predecessor, Bob Lingwood.  “Bob’s dedication to Omagh Access Forum has been immense,” he said. “He was a diplomatic chairperson, yet still able to fight respectfully for the right of everyone to access a building or service equally. “Bob is a hard act to follow and I will learn a lot from him and will take guidance from him during my initial period of chairperson.”

One of Dermot’s immediate priorities is ensuring that disabled access at the leisure complex will meet all requirements. “We are focused on maintaining the progress at the leisure complex and are working closely with all relevant agencies. We are also liaising with Disability Sport NI, ensuring that the gym and new swimming pool are suitable for people of all access requirements.”

Dermot adds that the forum will be regularly assessing the level of accessibility within premises throughout Omagh. He has also highlighted the ongoing problem of illegal parking in disabled bays as an issue he wants addressed. He said, “We are a constant lobbying presence on a wide range of issues, including abuse of disabled parking bays, unfair price of taxi fares and to promote change within existing policies and procedures of statutory and private organisations. “Omagh Access Forum will be raising awareness of the high levels of abuse of disabled parking bays in private areas in Omagh, for example at Omagh Health Centre, the Showgrounds Retail Park and other such locations.”

Dermot was recently invited to speak at a joint Invest NI/Disability Action NI event at Invest NI’s offices in Belfast. This was an event to promote entrepreneurs amongst the disabled population across the North and other local speakers included Claire Bowes from Omagh Music Academy and Bryan Leonard, from Leonard Cheshire Disability in Omagh.

Dermot explained, “I spoke about my website,, which is like ‘Trip Advisor’ for the disabled. It explains where disabled people can accesss, and where they can’t. It covers all areas such as how the physical building is for disabled people, right through to how the staff in the premises treat their disabled clientele.”

My Way Access will be launching a new-look website in a few short weeks.