People with disabilities have been left waiting almost a decade for mobility support schemes to be replaced

The delay in introducing a new personal transport scheme for disabled people has been described as cruel and indefensible by Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns.

Deputy Cairns, who is a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Disability Matters, said:

“The committee is deeply dismayed by the lack of action on devising a fair and adequate personal transport scheme for people with disabilities. I share their concerns and frustrations.

“It is almost a decade since the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant were discontinued and closed to new applicants. This was because the then Ombudsman found the schemes to be in breach of the Equal Status Act on the grounds that those over the age of 65 were not entitled to apply for either payment.

“But rather than simply widen eligibility criteria, the Government of the day axed both payments in 2013. It is completely unacceptable that disabled people and their families are still waiting for the introduction of promised replacement schemes.

“This has created a deeply unfair situation whereby those who were already in receipt of the supports continue to receive them, but others in exactly the same position cannot access these or alternative schemes.

“While the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme continues to be in place, it is excessively restrictive and difficult to access.

“These supports are vital for people to be able to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, as required by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

“The Joint Committee on Disability Matters has now written to relevant Government ministers seeking a commitment on the introduction of a new transport scheme. Members have also expressed their support for recommendations made by Family Carers Ireland and the Disabled Drivers’ Association of Ireland at the committee’s public meeting.

“These include a call not to remove the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme without an appropriate replacement being put in place. They are also seeking the urgent introduction of a new transport scheme for disabled people and their carers – one that ensures flexible arrangements and an integrated system that would better meet their needs.

“The committee has also recommended an examination of the existing Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme to see if eligibility can be extended to include those with non-physical disabilities.

“The Government must urgently respond to the committee and outline how and when it intends to remove these cruel barriers to disabled people’s independence and dignity.”

December 2, 2022

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