A Decade of Neglect: Ireland’s Urgent Need to Improve Disability Transportation Access

One could argue that a country is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. If so, the persistent neglect of people with disabilities in Ireland, especially in the realm of personal transportation, is a disheartening indicator. Despite government commitments, there has been a ten-year delay in providing suitable transport supports for people with disabilities, leaving many individuals marginalized and unable to fully participate in society. This issue has not just been highlighted but also branded as ‘shameful’ by Ombudsman Ger Deering.

A wheelchair user with a túnel far far away

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, governments are responsible for ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to transportation. This is essential for enabling individuals with disabilities to live independently and engage in societal activities. But in Ireland, the reality is starkly different.

There are three main schemes aimed at addressing this issue – the Motorised Transport Grant, the Mobility Allowance, and the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme. Regrettably, these schemes have been subject to inconsistencies, inequities, and inadequate eligibility criteria. When these issues were flagged, the government’s response was either to discontinue the schemes or, as in the case of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme, to reinforce the unsatisfactory eligibility criteria. The latter scheme even lacks an appeals mechanism since November 2021.

In 2013, the government announced plans to introduce an alternative to the Motorised Transport Grant and Mobility Allowance schemes. However, a decade has passed, and nothing has transpired. While the Department of Finance and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth have published reports on the issue, progress remains stagnant.

Ger Deering has stressed that more committees or reports are not the solution – what we need is clear leadership and action. He has committed to continue highlighting this shameful neglect until real, substantial progress is achieved.

The lack of progress is reflected in the record-high number of complaints received by the Ombudsman’s Office in 2022. Complaints about government departments and offices made up the majority, showcasing the public’s growing dissatisfaction with the state of affairs.

The tale of disability transportation in Ireland is one of unfulfilled promises and protracted neglect. While the issue continues to be highlighted, the need for swift and decisive action becomes increasingly urgent. As the public outcry grows, it is hoped that the government will finally rise to its responsibility and address the glaring inequities faced by people with disabilities in their quest for mobility and independence​.

Source https://www.ombudsman.ie/news/10-year-delay-in-providin/

Categories: accessibility, disability, Ireland

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