Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport and Communications, Martin Kenny TD, and spokesperson on Disabilities, Pauline Tully TD, have called on the government to engage with the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme.
The call comes following a shocking report from the Ombudsman for Public Services, Ger Deering, which highlighted the many difficulties faced by people with disabilities when accessing both public and private transport.
Teachta Kenny said:
“As part of his report, Mr Deering highlighted an array of transport services which are not serving the needs of people with disabilities across the country. One in particular, the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme, has been non-functioning since 2021 after the appeals board resigned. The state has yet to replace the appeals board.
“This scheme needs to be completely overhauled. The eligibility criteria is far too stringent and must be widened. Deputy Tully and I have written to the Minister again today to seek an update on the updating of the scheme.
“We need urgent engagement in this as it is quite literally putting the lives of some people with disabilities on hold.”
Teachta Tully said:
“It is estimated that, by 2026, disabled people will account for 16% of the population and it is crucial that this cohort of society has access to transport supports. People with disabilities should be able to live full and active lives within their communities but many obstacles remain that work to prevent this, and access to transport supports is one of them.
“It has been acknowledged by the Department of Finance that the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme is no longer fit for purpose and does not meet the needs of a significant group of those with a disability and mobility impairment. It is significantly divergent from best practice internationally, and does not and will never operate to the standard expected of a 21st-century operational model.
“While this acknowledgement is welcome, what is needed now from government is action on putting in place a new 21st-century, fit-for-purpose scheme that alleviates transport costs that people with disabilities face, results in vehicle adaptations based on their needs and not based on restrictive medical criteria, and that complies with the provisions of the Equal Status Act.”