Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability and Carers, Pauline Tully TD, has called on the Minister for Finance to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters to answer important questions about the Disabled Drivers Medical Scheme.
It was revealed last week that the entire Disabled Drivers Medical Scheme Appeals Board has resigned after expressing concern that the criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Cert is too stringent.
Speaking today, Teachta Tully said:
“I have written to the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters to request that committee members invite Minister Donohoe to appear before the committee and answer important questions about the Disabled Drivers Medical Scheme.
“Last week, it emerged that the entire appeals board of the scheme resigned after expressing concern about how the scheme was being handled and amid ongoing serious concerns that it is too difficult to obtain a primary medical cert.
“These issues have been raised repeatedly with the government, but they have failed to act. The Minister for Finance is totally failing to show leadership here and it is people with disabilities who are paying the price.
“Many disabled people are effectively being denied the ability to travel due to the stringent criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Certificate.
“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.
“This can have a huge personal impact on people’s lives, as they are less able to live independently, socialise and work without these vital supports that they should be entitled to.
“Over the last 18 months, we have seen a litany of failures in how this scheme has been handled by the Finance Department and this must change. A Supreme Court ruling in June 2020 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.
“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.
“In media comments last week, the Finance Department confirmed that they had not carried out the review that the Minister had undertaken to do 5 months ago and 18 months after the Supreme Court ruling.
“Minister Donohoe must come before the committee and answer questions about his total failure in how this scheme has been handled.
“The Committee is meeting in private session this week and I will be advocating for an invitation to be sent to the Minister as a matter of priority, so that we can get to the bottom of this.
“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.”