6 May 2023
~2 minutes read
People with disabilities need immediate action on transport support schemes – Harkin.
Marian Harkin has described as disgraceful the failure of successive governments to provide adequate, direct supports for people with disabilities to cater for their personal transportation needs.
“The absence of adequate and accessible supports to help them with their personal transport needs is not acceptable in a country that has a multi-billion-euro budget surplus and at a time when the understanding of the needs of people with disabilities has moved far beyond the narrow medical model to include an equally strong focus on social, personal and interpersonal needs,” Deputy Harkin said.
Speaking in support of a motion brought to the Dáil by the Regional Independents, Ms Harkin said it is shameful to think that one of the last major government decisions in relation to transport for people with disabilities was taken in 2013 when the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant for new applicants were discontinued.
That was until 2020 when the Primary Medical Certificate process was suspended, which allowed people with disabilities a reduction in VAT or VRT when purchasing or adapting a vehicle, along with an exemption from tolls and motor tax and provision for a fuel grant.
Ms Harkin pointed out that people with disabilities had far better supports ten years ago than they do now, “The original Mobility Allowance put money directly into the pockets of People with Disabilities to pay for taxis or other private transport while the Motorised Transport Grant significantly reduced costs associated with providing vehicles. Along with the Primary Medical Cert, they empowered people to respond to their own transport needs,” she said, “and this is key, enabling people to respond to their own transport needs.”
“They are waiting far too long for the reinstatement of the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant, meanwhile the Primary Medical Cert process has been reinstated in a much more restricted manner without an effective appeals process. We need updated and comprehensive versions of these schemes that are adequate in terms of funding and which view disability from a social perspective rather than a medical perspective. This approach sees the person with a disability as someone who needs to travel to work, to leisure pursuits, medical appointments and to visit family and friends.
“I know the Minister is aware of these issues, but people with disabilities need more than awareness, they need action,” the Deputy said.