Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle says urgent review of Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme is needed

Pringle says urgent review of Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme is needed

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, is supporting the resignation of the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, which plays a key role in a relief scheme related to vehicles for people with disabilities.

Deputy Pringle said: “It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but the actions of the board show how the scheme is failing people with disabilities.”

He has also repeated his call for an urgent review of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme, which he has raised in the Dáil on previous occasions.

The board hears appeals on decisions for a primary medical certificate, issued by the HSE, which provide tax reliefs on the purchase of specially constructed or adapted vehicles for persons with a disability.

Deputy Pringle had called for an urgent review of the process for obtaining primary medical certificates in the Dáil in June of last year during a topical issues debate, saying, “There needs to be a new, functional scheme put in place without delay.”

The deputy said the scheme provides vital supports to people with disabilities and is especially important in rural counties like Donegal, where the rate of forced car ownership is among the highest in the country.

Deputy Pringle was also critical of the appeals process, which requires people to travel to the Disabled Person Medical Aboard of Appeal in Dun Laoghaire.

The deputy said: “That is not practical for disabled people from Donegal or other parts of the country. An accessible review system should be set up in each county.”

He noted that RTÉ reported today that the five-member board tendered their resignations when Chairperson Dr Cara McDonagh wrote to the minister last October to tender her resignation. The resignations only now came to light, RTÉ reported.

RTÉ reported it was understood that, on average, less than 5 per cent of appeals were successful.

Deputy Pringle had also submitted a parliamentary question to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe last November, asking whether the promised review of the scheme had taken place. The minister said his officials will work closely with officials from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to progress the review.

Deputy Pringle said: “This review must be undertaken without delay. This Government must remove the barriers to people with disabilities accessing what should be theirs as a right.”