Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said that the travel pass scheme must also be protected for people with disabilities.
Deputy Ó Snodáigh was speaking in the Dáil tonight on a Fianna Fáil Private Members motion regarding the travel pass scheme for the elderly.
“The importance of the free travel scheme to older people across this state simply cannot be overstated.
“And they are not alone in depending on the travel pass to overcome isolation and to live a meaningful life of dignity and inclusion. It is unfortunate that the Fianna Fáil motion makes no mention of the thousands of people with disabilities and their carers for whom the travel pass scheme must also be defended and protected in full.
“I believe this warrants express mention particularly when we consider the fate of other schemes designed to meet the varying travel needs of people with disabilities.
“The Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant are two schemes that were intended to contribute to the transport costs of people with disabilities that impede them or leave them unable to use public transport. In a stunning move the government closed these schemes to new applicants early last year. They promised at the time that they would replace them with something new but more than a year later no such replacements have materialized.
“Likewise the government announced that the excise duty relief element of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme will be discontinued from the end of this year. The Minister for Finance has promised that it will be replaced by a new fuel grant scheme of equivalent value. But the clock is ticking and with no concrete details as to the form of the promised new scheme the fear is now that this support too could go un-replaced.
“I also believe that the government should in fact begin considering how it might extend travel supports to further people with certain disabilities who do not satisfy the narrow means-test for Disability Allowance.
“So in its response to this evenings motion I would urge the government to make a clear and categorical commitment that there will be no further erosion of the transport supports for people with disabilities. And that, at a minimum, the free travel scheme will be protected in full for older people, those with disabilities and their carers.”