Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions
Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant Scheme: Department of Health
Today we will have a discussion with officials from the Department of Health about the mobility allowance and motorised transport grants. I remind everybody to turn off their mobile telephones as they interfere with the sound system.
We are pleased to welcome from the Department of Health: Mr. Jim Breslin, Secretary General; Ms Frances Spillane, assistant secretary; and Ms Grainne Duffy, principal officer. They are here today to update the committee on progress on the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant. Members will be aware that these issues were initially brought to the committee through special reports under section 4 of the Ombudsman Act 1980 by the then Ombudsman, Ms Emily O'Reilly. The committee held a number of meetings on both topics, which culminated in the cessation of any new applications for the mobility allowance. The current recipients continue to receive their allowance, although applications for new allowances have been closed since 26 February 2013. On 2 July 2014, Dr. Ambrose McLoughlin, former Secretary General of the Department of Health, met with this committee and advised that the Department was working on the drafting of a new scheme. Mr. Breslin is here today to apprise members on the latest developments in regard to the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant.
I welcome our guests and thank them for forwarding their presentation, which has been circulated to the members. Before commencing, I must inform you that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, you are protected by absolute privilege in respect of the evidence you give to this committee. However, if you are directed by the Chairman to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and you continue to so do, you are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of your evidence. You are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and you are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, you should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.
I invite Mr. Breslin to make his presentation. This will be followed by a question and answer session with the members.