Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability and Carers, Pauline Tully TD, has welcomed news that the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters has agreed to invite the Minister for Finance to come before the committee and address serious concerns around the Disabled Drivers Scheme.
Teachta Tully had requested that the committee invite Minister Donohoe to come before the committee, after it was revealed 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.
Teachta Tully, who is a member of the committee, said:
“Earlier this week I wrote 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. I welcome that the committee has granted my request and will now ask the Minister to appear before a committee meeting.
“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.
“In recent media comments, 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 a key Supreme Court ruling.
“Minister Donohoe must come before the committee and answer questions about his total failure in how this scheme has been handled.
“I am determined to get to the bottom of this issue and ensure that people with disabilities are not abandoned by this government.
“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.
“Minister Donohoe now needs to confirm that he will appear before the committee at the earliest possible opportunity and that he will engage with our questions.
“I am committed to getting progress on this issue. People with disabilities must have their rights upheld and protected.”