Finance Minister's mismanagement of Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme must end - Pearse Doherty TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has criticised the Minister for Finance for his mismanagement of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme, which has seen disabled drivers and passengers denied tax relief for the purchase of adapted vehicles.
This comes as it emerged that the Board of Appeal, which reviews unsuccessful applications to the Scheme, had raised concerns with the Minister in March that the scheme excluded too many people, before its Chair resigned in October.
Teachta Doherty said:
“For years Sinn Féin and other representatives have raised problems with the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme with the Minister for Finance.
“These concerns included the rejection of applicants for the primary medical certificate, delays in decision making and qualifying criteria that excluded those with disabilities.
“Applications to the scheme were stopped following a June 2020 Supreme Court ruling in the favour of the families of two disabled children who were refused a primary medical certificate.
“Applications resumed in January 2021 with the Minister promising a comprehensive review of the scheme – that review has still not been published.
“It has now been revealed that the Board of Appeal met with the Minister in March 2021 making clear that they could not stand over the scheme and criticising the lack of progress made to improve it.
“This was five months before the Chair of the Board of Appeal resigned.
“It is clear that the Minister for Finance failed to respond to repeated criticisms of the Scheme and its criteria by the Board – criteria that exclude so many disabled people from accessing personal transport.
“These are concerns which were raised by the Ombudsman last year, who concluded, again, that the scheme ‘is inadequate to meet the needs of many people living with a disability’.
“The lack of action by the Minister and his inaction despite issues raised by charities, civil society groups, citizens and public representatives is totally unacceptable.
“The Minister should publish minutes of meetings and correspondence with the Board of Appeal, including the criticisms they raised and actions he took in response.
“The comprehensive review which was promised a year ago should be published immediately with detailed actions to widen eligibility to the scheme and improve its administration.”