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25 February, 2020
 
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‘Parallel Parliament’ marred by handicap

Head of Cyprus Paraplegic Association gives fiery speech over inaccessible House

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The head of the Cyprus Paraplegic Association drew a round of applause in a “parallel parliament” session on Thursday after exiting the House to protest the lack of handicap accessibility.

According to Green party members, who posted a video over the incident, Head of Cyprus Paraplegic Association Demetris Lambrianides had a brief exchange with the House Speaker over the lack of accessibility.

'It is important for your own dignity and self-respect of all citizens that I be treated equally, and so I shall leave now until we can solve this problem'

Lambrianides, who uses a wheelchair, was attending a founding session of a “parallel parliament” aimed at bringing citizens closer to the legislative branch by reaching out to social groups.

During the meeting, presided by House Speaker Demetris Syullouris, the two men had a brief exchange over the building not being accessible for wheelchair users.

Syllouris was heard saying that this was the reason why a new building was need, adding that other people including Lambrianides had made statements against the idea.

“You were one of those people who wrote we shouldn’t build new palaces,” the House speaker said.

“Accessibility for all in the House of Parliament is not an issue of building a palace,” Lambrianides replied, adding that the current building ought to be accessible.

“It is important for your own dignity and self-respect of all citizens that I be treated equally, and so I shall leave now, amicably and respectfully, until we can solve this problem, thank you” Lambrianides added.

Lambrianides’ remarks drew a round of applause as he was seen exiting the chamber, as Syllouris was heard calling on the House clerk to note that official action had to be taken to rectify the situation.

Green Party leader and MP George Perdikis later wrote on Twitter that the issue could be fixed rather easily, while additional reports pointed out that the desks in the chamber were constructed in such a way, with no height adjustment, that served as barriers for wheelchair users.

During the summer, Syllouris had introduced the idea of the parallel chamber, saying it was crucial that members of parliament listen to their constituents in an organised manner, in addition to carrying out their legislative duties.

An official establishment session of the parallel parliament was scheduled to take place on Friday afternoon, following an official vote. Elections of Parallel House Reps are also expected to take place.

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Cyprus  |  handicap  |  accessible  |  Lambrianides  |  House  |  parliament  |  parallel  |  Syllouris  |  legislation  |  society  |  Green party  |  Perdikis  |  Paraplegic Association

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