Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley has expressed grave concern at news that the entire Disabled Drivers Medical Scheme Appeals Board has resigned.
According to Deputy Stanley, they resigned after expressing concerns that the criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Cert is too stringent.
Brian Stanley said: “Many disabled people are effectively being denied the ability to travel due to the stringent criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Certificate.
“This scheme is very important for disabled people living in rural areas such as in many parts of Laois & Offaly.
“This is denying disabled people their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to live fully independent lives.
“An immediate review of this scheme and the criteria it sets needs to take place; with input from Disabled Persons Organisations and other relevant stakeholders taken on board.
“This must include detailed actions to widen eligibility to the scheme and improve its administration.
“Disabled people should have the ability to travel. Lack of transport can be devastating for people’s ability to work, to socialise and to complete everyday tasks which enable them to live full and independent lives.
“The impact that loss of transport has on disabled people’s lives is difficult to overstate and carries a huge practical and emotional toll.
“The government must recognise this, listen to disabled people and prioritise this issue.”
The criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Certificate was overly stringent and confirmed by the Supreme Court ruling in June 2020 which overturned the Board’s decision to deny two families a Primary Medical Certificate.
This ruling led to the suspension of the scheme which was only reopened in January 2021 after an amendment to the Finance Bill.
Deputy Stanley continued: “This was supposed to be an interim measure and a review of the scheme was promised by the Minister for Finance in September 2021 to be carried out by his Department whose remit it comes under, but this was never delivered.
“The Department of Finance statement stated this week that ‘a working group – led by the Department of Children, Equality, and Disability – will review the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme’.
“This only confirms that the Minister for Finance and his Department has not carried out the review he had undertaken to do 5 months ago and 18 months after the Supreme Court ruling.
“An immediate review of this scheme and the criteria it sets out needs to take place with input from Disabled Persons Organisations and other relevant stakeholders taken on board and must include detailed actions to widen eligibility to the scheme and improve its administration.”