Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue has accused the Finance Minister and the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability of failing to address concerns relating to the Disabled Drivers Passengers Scheme, despite being contacted by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Deputy McConalogue said he has been consistently raising issues associated with the scheme, but to date the government has stalled on making any changes to improve access to the scheme for people with disabilities.

The scheme requires drivers and passengers to apply for a Primary Medical Certificate in order to avail of tax relief which is in turn is then used to purchase or adapt a vehicle. However, the rigidness of criteria for the Primary Medical Certificate is causing undue anguish as people with severe disabilities are being told they are not eligible.

Deputy McConalogue said, “I have been liaising with the Office of the Ombudsman on this issue and it has acknowledged that the scheme in its current format is much too rigid.  It also confirmed to me that it has been in touch with both Ministers’ offices seeking legislative changes.  However, neither Minster has to date brought forward any legislation to amend the scheme.

“The scheme, in its current format, is too simplistic and needs to be made more flexible so that the complex area of disability can be appropriately assessed.

“I have been contacted by people with serious physical disabilities - including people who are without a limb; people who are primarily wheelchair users; people suffering the after effects of a stroke; and indeed, people who have serious degenerative diseases such as MS & Spina Bifida - who have been turned down for assistance.

“This needs urgent legislative attention from the government and my party and I will be seeking progress in the Dáil. The recent ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities was an important milestone for this country; however, it is clear from this scheme that there is a huge amount of work to be done in improving services and access for people with disabilities.”

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