Seanad debates

Wednesday, 22 November 2023

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Disability Services

10:30 am

Photo of Martin ConwayMartin Conway (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Carroll McNeill, to the House. It is great when somebody from the relevant Department is in a position to take a Commencement matter. This concerns the Department of Finance. Many colleagues will understand the sometime frustration and difficulties in acquiring primary medical certificates. A primary medical certificate eases the cost of acquiring transport for people with disabilities and their loved ones. Coming from rural Ireland I know the difficulties when it comes to transport. As somebody who does not drive I rely on family and friends, and a public transport network, to get me from A to B. People with complex disabilities are in many cases not entitled to, or do not secure, a primary medical certificate when common sense and logic would suggest they should. The thousands of people who have primary medical certificates have them for good medical reasons. In most cases they are put to good use, where either they or their loved ones are able to acquire cars to give them independence. However, thousands more are falling between the cracks. Those are the people I am concerned about. I am also concerned that the primary medical certificate system is cumbersome, complex, difficult and challenging. People who have acquired disabilities find it frustrating. It is certainly not facilitating equal access to transport, which would then facilitate the potential to obtain meaningful employment.

This needs to be reviewed. A motion was passed recently at Clare County Council.On that occasion, a number of councillors experienced the same frustration that I would say every public representatives feels when somebody comes to him or her, and the representative knows in his or her heart and soul that the person deserves and should get a primary medical certificate but because of the convoluted, archaic and dated procedures and processes, falls between the cracks and does not succeed in acquiring the certificate. The system needs to be streamlined and opened up a little. Common sense needs to prevail. When it is the right, fair and proper thing to do, as a society, we should be doing it.

We want to see more people with disabilities in meaningful employment because when people are in meaningful employment, they are contributing to the system, paying taxes and feel more a part of society. This is what we want to strive for. The recent census showed a significant increase in the number of people in this country who have a declared disability or declare a disability. With that needs to come State structures to support those people to have a level playing pitch and to feel equal and included. I appeal to the Minister of State and the Minister for Finance to review and update the system for acquiring a primary certificate.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.