Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has urged the government to “withdraw its plan to scrap the Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grant Scheme”.
Teachta Adams urged the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions in the Dáil this morning to “rescind this appalling decision; wait until the current review is completed, and consult with those representing disabled citizens before taking any decisions on this matter”.
The Sinn Féin Louth TD told the Dáil that his constituency office in Drogheda has already been contacted by disabled citizens frightened at Monday’s announcement by the government to scrap the Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grant Scheme.
“The Government claims that it has scrapped the Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grant Scheme because they are illegal and discriminate against a section of citizens who are entitled to these schemes and who have been denied access to them by successive governments.
“Fianna Fáil which was in government for most of the time these schemes have been operating, and who knew they were illegal, was actively discriminating against citizens with disabilities. So too has this government.
“Fine Gael and Labour have had two years to fix this problem. The way to do this is to bring these schemes into compliance with the law and to give citizens with disabilities, where appropriate, their entitlement to access to these schemes.
“That would be fair and legal. This is what the Ombudsman recommended. But the Department of Health has said these costs cannot be borne.
“So, instead of ending discrimination against a section of disabled citizens the government chooses to end the schemes and discriminate against all of those with disability. This is unacceptable.
“The government has tried to claim that this has nothing to do with cost. This is not true. Cost has had everything to do with this decision. The government won’t extend the two schemes because it will cost more and it has now scrapped them because of the threat of legal action by those who have been discriminated against.
“The Taoiseach claims that the money allocated will be ring fenced for this year but it is clear that the money involved is insufficient to meet the needs of disabled citizens and the government refuses to allocate more.
“Vulnerable citizens are being denied their entitlements and will lose a significant part of their income as a result of this decision. It is shameful.
“Last October in response to a question by Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald the Tánaiste said: ‘It is not the government’s wish to withdraw the Mobility Allowance from those who currently have it’. But that’s exactly what the government announced yesterday.
“Once again this government in pursuit of its austerity policies is targeting citizens who are least able to defend themselves. Having attacked the incomes of frontline workers it has now turned its attention to the disabled and elderly.
“This government and its Fianna Fáil predecessor have failed people with disabilities.
“The government should lift this threat from the thousands of disabled citizens. It should apply the law equally and fairly for all disabled citizens and abandon a policy decision that is mean spirited and will impose severe hardship on more than 5,000 people with disabilities.”