Local TD Denis Naughten has told the Dáil that people with a disability have effectively been coping with a 9-year lockdown because of the failure by successive Governments to put transport supports in place to allow them to access work and other community activities.
“Nine years ago in 2013 the Government suspended the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant for new applicants and promised to put an alternative fair and equal replacement scheme, but this has never happened,” stated Denis Naughten.
“So, while we have all experienced firsthand what it is like to be confined to our own homes due to Covid restrictions, think what it must be like for a person with a disability who has been effectively in lockdown in their own homes for the past 460 weeks and, in their case, there is no indication of when these restrictions will be lifted.”
Denis Naughten was addressing a Dáil motion that he and colleagues tabled calling on the Government to provide funding to establish a comprehensive set of transport supports for people with a disability as a matter of priority.
He pointed out that households with a disability spend on average an additional €9,000 on items explicitly relating to disability, unique versions of products and transport and mobility.
Transport costs tend to be an extra living cost that people with disabilities cannot afford, which gets more difficult as the cost-of-living increases for everybody.
Turning to the Primary Medical Certificate, which allows a person with a disability to avail of the disabled driver and passenger scheme, he said that the “scheme and the eligibility criteria have always been totally inadequate to meet the genuine needs of people with a disability”.
“It is impossible for people with disabilities to be able to lead full and active lives within our communities throughout this country without access to public and personal transport,” said Denis Naughten.
He welcomed the acceptance by the Government of the Dáil motion that he and his colleagues had tabled, however he cautioned: “It is just not good enough that we now have three support schemes that allow people with a disability to live independently and get around effectively suspended for the majority of people with a disability who cannot access alternative transport.”
Watch Denis’ speech here:
Motion adopted by Dáil Éireann:
Motion re Mobility and Transport Supports for People with Disabilities
That Dáil Éireann:
— Ireland is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which places an onus on signatories to “provide access to transportation on an equal basis to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life”;
— people with disabilities should be able to lead full and active lives within our communities;
— people with disabilities need access to public and personal transport; and
— many people with disabilities are confined to home, unable to engage on an equal basis in employment or in their community, as they are unable to access Government support to help with their personal transport needs;
— the recent Ombudsman Report entitled “Grounded – Unequal access for people with disabilities to personal transport schemes”, highlights the years of inaction by the Government to address supports for people with disabilities;
— the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme continues to reinforce the inequitable eligibility criteria in primary legislation and continues to exclude many people in need of access to supports for personal transport;
— since the discontinuation of the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant for new applicants in 2013, the Government has yet to provide a fair and equal replacement scheme;
— the Indecon research report entitled “The Cost of Disability in Ireland” estimates that households spend on average an additional €9,027 on items specifically relating to disability, special versions of products, and transport and mobility; and
— transport costs tend to be an extra living cost that people with disabilities are unable to afford; and
calls on the Government to:
— provide funding to finalise and introduce a comprehensive transport support scheme, to replace the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant, as a matter of priority;
— reinstate and amend the Primary Medical Certificate process which presently is not fit for purpose;
— address the issues in relation to the eligibility criteria for the schemes with immediate effect;
— improve access to public transport for people with disabilities; and
— invest in transport infrastructure that considers and supports accessibility, mobility, and inclusion for people with a disability.
Sponsor(s) Cathal Berry, Seán Canney, Peter Fitzpatrick, Noel Grealish, Michael Lowry, Verona Murphy, Denis Naughten, Matt Shanahan, Peadar Tóibín