Disabled people are still fighting for their right to access private transport - Violet-Anne Wynne TD
Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has spoken out against the continued refusal to reinstatement schemes aimed at assisting disabled people acquire their own means of transportation.
Ombudsman Peter Tyndall published a report on the 22nd of November entitled 'Grounded: Unequal access for people with disabilities to personal transport schemes.'
The Motorised Transport Grant and the Mobility Allowance were cut for new applicants due to austerity measures in 2013 and have never been restored, despite a Transport Support Scheme being advocated for.
Teachta Wynne says:
“Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) puts an onus on signatories to provide access to transportation on an equal basis with others to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life.
“This positive obligation on the Government to address the inequity experienced by Disabled People to access transport is echoed in Article 104 in the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021, which tenure is now drawing to a close, and which has proved another glossy policy lacking in substance and concrete progressive change.
“The Ombudsman report has highlighted that the State has done little to nothing to protect this right since ratifying the UNCRPD in 2018.
“Disabled people, and especially those with mobility issues, physical or sensory impairments, have structural barriers to deal with in order to be able to move around in a society designed by able-bodied people, with able-bodied people in mind.
“Both the Motorised Transport Grant and the Mobility Allowance acknowledged the additional costs associated with acquiring an adapted car or adapting their own car.
"They were provided to disabled drivers who qualified the needs assessment. In a series of austerity measures introduced post-crash, these significant supports were slashed, with the vague commitment to reintroduce at a later date that never arrived.
“This report is timely as it exposes the non-existent supports at present to help Disabled drivers get on the road – which we know is important for employment opportunities, family life and independence.
“In a PQ response I received recently, the Department of Finance stated that support provided through the ‘Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme’ was 'generous', which I find misleading and disingenuous as it only caters to those who are working and can benefit from VAT relief.
“It does absolutely nothing for people who are struggling to access employment because they have no viable means of transport and are stuck in a never-ending cycle of lack of access.
“Disabled people need to have the choice and control over whether they use public or private transport.
“I will be following up with the Minister on this matter. "