Northern Ireland

Wheelchair user Oran (13) heartbroken after Ariana Grande concert access blow

Glengormley teenager Oran Murphy and mum Laura Rossborough
Glengormley teenager Oran Murphy and mum Laura Rossborough

THE mother of a 13-year-old disabled boy says he has been left broken-hearted after being refused access to the VIP area at an Ariana Grande concert.

Oran Murphy, a wheelchair user from Glengormley, had attended Sunday's concert in Dublin's 3Arena with his mother Laura Rossborough.

The Hazelwood College pupil, who has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, is a huge fan of the singer.

Ms Rossborough had originally paid almost £800 last December for two tickets for herself and Oran for a 'meet and greet' which involves meeting the star in a small group.

She said: "Two years ago we were in Dublin and Oran met Ariana Grande at a meet-and-greet. It was amazing, the arena treated us so well and Oran was allowed into the VIP area without any problems."

Just three weeks ago, Ms Rossborough received an email to say that the meet and greet was no longer being offered at the show - a move believed to be related to the 26-year-old singer's struggle with depression and anxiety.

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Instead Ms Rossborough and her son were given a 'premium standing ticket in the designated VIP area and gift bag' as well as a refund of £180 per ticket.

Said Ms Rossborough: "As soon as we got to the door, we were told Oran couldn't go into the VIP area because of the wheelchair.

"Oran has been talking about Ariana Grande every day for five years. He knows every single word of every single song and he listens to her music for an hour before he gets out of bed every day.

"He has been going to concerts for 10 years. Music is the only thing that is accessible to him.

"It is breaking my heart. He is the loveliest wee boy who loves life. He doesn't see himself as any different. He is away to school crying today. He told me he was never going to get that experience back again.

"This is a bigger issue than one child. Disabled children should have the same rights as other children."

Alix Crawford is chairperson of the Mae Murray Foundation, which has 700 families as members, and was set up to allow people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities in an inclusive environment.

She said that while she didn't know the specific circumstances of Oran's case, the charity was frequently approached by families who had encountered similar problems with access.

"We area happy to work with venues and give them advice on marrying equal opportunities with risk and health and safety," she said.

"People with mixed abilities want the same opportunities as everyone else."

A spokesperson for 3Arena said: "On the night of the concert, when we were made aware that Oran Murphy uses a wheelchair, we explained to him and to Laura Rossborough, that we could not accommodate them on the floor of the venue. It is unsafe for the person using the wheelchair and poses a potential problem should it be necessary to clear the venue quickly.

"We apologised to both of them and accommodated them on the balcony in front of the stage that is designed to for wheelchair users.

"We would encourage anyone wishing to attend a concert at the venue who has reduced mobility to click on the 'accessible tickets' button on the top of the page, when booking online, so that we can make sure they can experience the event safely and with the best possible view."