Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 27/03/2013

Disappointment over disability travel decision

Airport wheelchair assistance

An Oireachtas committee has expressed its disappointment that it was not informed by the Department of Health of its plans to scrap two travel allowances for people with disabilities.

Earlier this week, the department announced its decision to scrap the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant with immediate effect.

Around 4,700 people receive a Mobility Allowance. It is aimed at people with a severe disability who cannot walk, but who would benefit form trips outside the home. The payment is up to €208 per month.

Some 300 people receive a Motorised Transport Grant. This is a means tested HSE payment made to people with disabilities who need to purchase a car in order to retain employment. It is also aimed at people with disabilities who need to have a car or other vehicle adapted, again for the purpose of having a job.

Late last year, the Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, said that the department had been acting illegally by failing to remove the upper age limit of 65 years on the Mobility Allowance.

A few weeks later, the department was again criticised, this time for its handling of the Motorised Grant. The Ombudsman found that the HSE’s operation of this grant ‘reflected an approach to disability which is unduly restrictive, improperly discriminatory and fails to have proper regard to the Equal Status Acts’.

The department said that in view of this, it was ending both schemes with immediate effect.

However, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions has said it is surprised at the move, given that the allowances were discussed earlier this month with no mention of scrapping them.

According to committee chairman, Padraig MacLochlainn, on February 6, a meeting on the issue was held with Health Minister, Dr James Reilly, Junior Health Minister, Kathleen Lynch and HSE officials.

“We heard the complexities around maintaining both these schemes. The committee was advised that a thorough review was underway, based on consultation with current beneficiaries. Committee members expressed disappointment that we were not informed, either at that meeting, or in the intervening period, that the suspension of the schemes was being contemplated,” Mr MacLochlainn explained.

The committee has agreed to call the secretary general at the Department of Health, Dr Ambrose McLoughlin, before it to discuss the decision.

Meanwhile, the committee also expressed concern ‘at the difficulties in the relationship between the Ombudsman and the Department of Health, which are being played out in public’.

“Our committee resolved to continue to closely monitor developments, with the intention of publishing a report with recommendations to the Minister on how a pathway can be found to ensure any new schemes are centred on fairness and compassion for those citizens most in need,” Mr MacLochlainn added.

Source: irishhealth


  1. Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2013 18:00:51 +0000 To:

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