Dáil debates

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Disability Services

11:50 am

Photo of Pauline TullyPauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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105. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on progress in the review of the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46247/22]

Photo of Pauline TullyPauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I ask the Minister for an update on the progress that has been made to date on the review of the disabled drivers and passengers scheme.

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, I gave a commitment to the House that a comprehensive review of the scheme would be undertaken. I am working with the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Deputy O'Gorman, on this and we both agree that the review should be brought within a wider review under the auspices of the national disability inclusion strategy. This work is under way, proposals are being developed and a further meeting of this group is taking place at the end of November to try to look at what modifications could be made to the existing scheme or whether a new scheme is needed. In parallel to this, I am supporting efforts that are under way to appoint a new board of appeal because I regret that no such board is in place. While it is taking a bit of time to do this due to the need for candidates to be Garda vetted, that work is under way.

Photo of Pauline TullyPauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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As the Minister said, all the members of the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal resigned at the end of last year after expressing repeated concerns that the criteria for access to the scheme were way too stringent. The Minister said he is in the process of putting a new board in place but there are mounting numbers of people awaiting appeal and they are being left in limbo with nowhere to turn. The transport working group met in January and the Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for disability, Deputy Rabbitte, stated that the review of transport supports for disabled people was a priority and that the working group's focus since that would be to scope the provision of transport supports across Departments and public bodies, with a view to assessing gaps and anomalies. I know there are many gaps and anomalies but surely this has taken far too long. How often has that working group met, how many people has it engaged with and has it engaged with the people who made up the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal for their expertise? Ireland is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and there is an onus on us to provide access to transportation on an equal basis to enable people with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life.

Photo of Michael MoynihanMichael Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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I support Deputy Tully. We are constantly hearing about this at the Joint Committee on Disability Matters. The issues of disabled drivers and mobility need to be treated as a matter of extreme urgency by Governments and Departments to try to get a resolution to it. These people need a resolution of this point.

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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I take the points that have been raised by the Deputies. The working group has met on a number of occasions throughout the year and its next meeting is coming up in a number of weeks. I will play my role in trying to make progress on this issue because I accept that too many of our citizens are waiting for too long to know where they will be with the provision of valuable supports. We must work to appoint a new board and to conclude this policy work. My officials and myself will play our role in trying to accelerate and conclude that work.

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Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.