Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “another sorry episode in this saga” the decision of the Department of Health to discontinue the Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grant Scheme.
“This is another sorry episode in the saga of these schemes. The department has been knowingly operating these schemes illegally because they discriminate against people who are excluded from them on the basis of an upper age limit and too narrow qualification criteria.
“In the case of the Mobility Allowance the upper age limit was found by the Ombudsman to be discriminatory in 2009. As the Ombudsman has pointed out in her statement expressing disappointment at the government’s action in ending the schemes, they were operated in breach of the Equal Status Act since 2000.
“Axing these schemes completely is no solution. While they will continue for four months more, they are to end at that point. Though a review is being put in place there is no certainty about what will emerge.
“Meanwhile these schemes are being shut down and the transport needs of disabled people are thrown into uncertainty. The strong suspicion is that this is an excuse for yet another cutback. Minister James Reilly must come into the Dáil and make himself accountable on this matter.”