The entire Disabled Drivers Medical Scheme Appeals Board has resigned.
It is a shocking indictment of the State’s treatment of disabled people that three transport support schemes are effectively closed, according to Newbridge Councillor Chris Pender.
Sinn Féin TD for Kildare South, Patricia Ryan, has also expressed grave concern at news that the entire Disabled Drivers Medical Scheme Appeals Board has resigned after expressing concerns that the criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Cert is too stringent.
Social Democrats Cllr. Pender, has said that personal transportation supports for people with disabilities are now virtually non-existent.
"These resignations, which occurred in October, coincided with the release of a report by outgoing Ombudsman Peter Tyndall criticising personal transportation supports for people with disabilities.
"He noted that two previous transportation schemes,the Motorised Transport Grant, a payment of up to €5,000 for those who needed to buy or modify a car in order to keep their job, and the Mobility Allowance, a payment for those who couldn't walk or use public transportation,had been abruptly closed in 2013," said Pender.
"The schemes were closed after Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly determined that the eligibility criteria violated the Equal Status Acts," he said.
"Replacement schemes were promised at the time, but they have yet to materialise eight years later.
"While the Motorised Transport Grant and the Mobility Allowance are no longer available, the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme is effectively closed due to overly stringent qualifying criteria," he insisted.
Kildare TD Patricia Ryan commented: “Many disabled people are effectively being denied the ability to travel due to the stringent criteria for obtaining a Primary Medical Certificate.
“This is denying disabled people their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to live fully independent lives," she said.
"These programmes provided a vital lifeline for people with disabilities, allowing them to travel to work, shop, and participate in daily community life," she added.
Cllr. Pender said the fact that all three of these transportation schemes are now effectively closed is a shocking indictment of the State's treatment of disabled people," he insisted.
"Not only does the failure to provide essential transportation supports for people with disabilities increase their isolation and anxiety. It also has a significant impact on their ability to work and move out of poverty.
"Irish people with disabilities have one of the lowest employment rates in the EU, with just over a third of working-age people with disabilities having a job." Surprisingly, Ireland's employment rate for people with disabilities is only half that of the European average.
"Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe must now address the complete lack of accessible transportation for disabled people.
"A long-promised review of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme must take place as soon as possible.
"The Minister must also explain why, eight years after their closure, no replacement schemes for the Motorised Transport Grant and the Mobility Allowance have materialised," concluded Pender.