Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
In 2011 and 2012, the then Ombudsman, Ms Emily O'Reilly, found the eligibility criteria for the motorised transport grant and mobility allowance were in breach of the Equal Status Acts. What did the then Government do? Did it improve access to the schemes, as any compassionate Government would have done? Did it do all it could to ensure people with a disability would not be grounded in their homes? No, it callously discontinued both schemes for new applicants in 2013.
Yesterday morning, the outgoing Ombudsman, Mr. Peter Tyndall, published his final report, Grounded: Unequal access for people with disabilities to personal transport schemes. In it he claims that, despite appeals to success of Governments over the course of nine years to reintroduce the schemes, nothing was done. The report states:
I am very concerned that the issues identified appear to have effectively been ignored and that nine years later, there is no evidence of any real progress that would serve to enhance the lives of those for whom these schemes were intended to assist with their daily lives. This is of huge concern to me.
The problems Mr. Tyndall identifies are the problems I am sure every constituency office has received from people in need of supports through the schemes. He outlines the absolute injustice that is being experienced by people with disabilities owing to the inadequate transport supports that have been provided by previous Governments and that are being continued by the current one. It is a year and a half since the current Government was cobbled together, yet we are no further along. How many more damning indictments will be published before the Government does right by people with disabilities?