Successive governments have not addressed transport needs for people with disabilities and it was “a shadow on politics” that must be addressed now, Independent TD Sean Canney has said.
Mr Canney said there were people in the State who were “grounded” and could not access their communities or go to work.
The Regional Independent Group of TDs has called for a transport scheme “that works for people with disabilities”. The group put forward a motion on Wednesday urging the Government to implement a comprehensive transport support scheme to replace the mobility allowance and motorised transport grant without further delay.
Mr Canney said people with disabilities should be able to lead “full and active lives” in communities, and needed access to public and personal transport.
“Many people with disabilities are trying to and are unable to engage on an equal basis in employment or in their community, and they’re unable to access government support to help them with their personal transport needs,” he said.
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said in contemporary Ireland there was still “a phenomenal level of barriers”, preventing people from being “included in and fully engaged in society”.
“I know, for example, over the last number of months I’ve seen several schools where children with certain disabilities are not allowed to attend full days in their school because of their disabilities,” he said.
“I know people with disabilities who have been on social housing waiting lists for more than a decade in certain counties. The level of homelessness amongst people with disabilities is higher than in the general population.”
Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick said households spend on average an additional €9,027 on items explicitly relating to disability. He said there were situations where people with disabilities were “confined to home” and unable to engage on an equal basis in employment or with their government as they were unable to access government support to help with their transport needs.
Minister of State for Disability Anne Rabbitte said the entry criteria for primary medical certificates, which are issued by the HSE and certify that a person is permanently and severely disabled , are “absolutely out of date”.
“If you were a blind person you cannot access it, if you have Parkinson’s you cannot access it, if you have MS(Multiple sclerosis) you cannot access it,” she said.
“Once you show any form of mobility at all you cannot access it, so we now know that it is actually not fit for purpose and it needs to be completely reviewed in its entirety.”
Ms Rabbitte said there were “very real transport challenges” for people with disabilities which the Government was addressing.
She said there was “a complexity” to the issues involved, which required “a considered response”.
“We must clearly identify the gaps and avoid jumping into hasty solutions which may not be sustainable or adequate in the long term, and we must instead ensure that we are creating properly tailored and properly targeted supports.” .
Ms Rabbitte said the Government would not be opposing the motion.