The following is a short interview between social justice journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bhain and a spokesperson for the Celtic Disabled Supporters Association, published on Phil’s website. The CDSA is the recognised representative body of Celtic’s disabled supporters.
When was the Celtic Disabled Supporters Association founded?
“The CDSA was founded on 29 May 2011”.
Why were you founded?
“The CDSA was founded to represent the views/needs of the vast amount of disabled people who support Celtic”.
How many members do you have?
“We have approximately 120 members”.
Are there any access issues at Celtic Park?
“The access at Celtic Park is, generally, very good. We have members on the waiting list for a disabled season ticket, so we hope the introduction of the new spaces in the North West corner of the stadium will allow for better access to facilities, as well as getting more disabled people into Celtic Park. We maintain a good working relationship with Celtic in monitoring access for both CDSA members and non-members alike”.
Are there any access issues at away grounds in Scotland?
“Access at away grounds very much varies, however this is getting better. The CDSA has close links with the SDSA (Scottish Disabled Supporters Association) which hopes to improve facilities and maintain ticket pricing across all away venues”.
You recently released a statement (see here) about the use of pyrotechnics by some Celtic fans. Why did you feel the need to make that plea?
“As we highlighted in the statement issued, some members who attend matches have breathing difficulties/limitations as well as others on portable ventilator. If the smoke was to be inhaled it could have serious health repercussions for those involved”.
What do you say to those who allege that your criticism of the use of pyrotechnics was at the behest of the club?
“This is simply not true. The CDSA Committee decided to issue the statement as we felt strongly on the issue. We then, and only then, have Celtic sight of the statement the same time we issued it to the CSA, Affiliation and the Celtic Trust. The CDSA are like any other supporters group, in that we are independent from the football club”.
What range of disabilities would your members have?
“We have a wide range of disabilities within our members – physical disabilities, mentally handicapped, blind and deaf. We also encourage members’ families to become involved in the CDSA”.
What specific issues do these disabilities present to someone who wants to attend matches to watch Celtic?
“Having level access to car parking, to the stadium, accessible toilets and food kiosks. For those with a visual impairment, there is access to a commentary loop”.
For more information about the Celtic Disabled Supporters Association, you can visit http://www.celticdsa.co.uk/.