Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has criticised the Government’s lack of political will to resolve the human rights issues that Disabled People face.
Following the resignation of the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal earlier this month, Tecahta Wynne submitted a parliamentary question to obtain the number of appeals that have been processed and granted over the last 5-year period.
Teachta Wynne said:
“The resignation of the board was completely avoidable if there was a genuine political will the Government to improve the situation at hand.
“In response to a previous PQ I submitted asking for the supports available to Disabled drivers, the Department of Finance assured me that there were ‘generous supports’ in place. That statement is untrue and downright offensive to the Disabled People of Ireland who find themselves, by and large, without access to both public and private means of transport.
“It’s an indictment on the efficiency and functionality of the state that the appeals board has resigned en masse. It’s symptomatic of deep dysfunction and service failure that the board in its entirety was unwilling to continue its operation.
“The latest number provided through PQ have revealed just how unjust the appeals process has been due to overly stringent Primary Medical Certificate criteria.
“In 2017, only 60% of appeals submitted were processed. Only 2% of appeals made in that year were approved. That is an extremely low figure.
“In comparison to 2019, when a pathetic 1.3% of appeals were granted. How on earth is that possible? If Disabled People have not had access to a viable appeals process, this is an infringement on their human rights under the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which enshrines the right to participate meaningfully in society.
“In 2021 less than 40% of appeals lodged were processed, and only 3% of refusals were overturned. These figures are telling – the appeals process has not been functioning smoothly for years and the Government have not taken steps to improve the system.
“The Minister for Finance and his Department have not carried out the review of the scheme he had committed to 5 months ago, 18 months after the Supreme Court ruling requested it.
“I will be following this up with the Minister, it is imperative that stakeholders and DPOs are engaged with as soon as possible; the recommendations of the Ombudsman’s report ‘Grounded’ are implemented as soon as is practicable and a new scheme is established that vindicate the rights of Disabled People.”