Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I thank the Minister of State for his response. I am glad he acknowledged the archaic language used in the scheme and the fact it bears no relation to the difficulties people live with now and for which they need support. The Minister for Finance has opened up the scheme because of a court action. He was forced into it, basically. I am wary that we might not see changes coming forward for this. It is vital that we do and that we make sure it happens.
The Minister referred to significant tax expenditure in a reply we received to a parliamentary question. The Government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities but not the optional protocol. Furthermore, it does not provide the necessary resources to give disabled people rights. That is what this is about. Disabled people are often an afterthought for governments. We talk about encouraging disabled people to participate in society but then put barriers in their way. It is not good enough any more and we need to address it.
The examples I highlighted are just some stories of many. I am sure every Member of the House has more stories. It shows the draconian rules implemented by government. Donegal is a rural and isolated county and has among the highest forced car ownership in the country. Given that the county is so badly served by public transport, what are disabled people supposed to do? If they are not granted relief to purchase a vehicle, how will they get those supports?
It is urgent that this scheme be reviewed and a proper system put in place to ensure disabled people can access what should be theirs as of right. I believe there would be a return to the State from that. The Minister referred in his answer to the costs of doing this. There will be a return because people will be able to go out and participate in our society.