People with disabilities 'need action rather than committees', says Ombudsman

People with disabilities 'need action rather than committees', says Ombudsman

Ombudsman Ger Deering said it is 'completely unacceptable' that some disbility schemes have been either withdrawn or made more restrictive. 

The Ombudsman has criticised this Government for its lack of progress in providing access to personal transport support for people living with a disability.

In 2021, the Office of the Ombudsman published the Grounded report, which found that personal transport supports for people with disabilities are inadequate, unfair, and inequitable.

It followed complaints to the office in relation to three schemes — the motorised transport grant, the mobility allowance, and the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme.

On Tuesday, Ombudsman Ger Deering told the Oireachtas committee on autism that he is “very disappointed” with the lack of progress in the time since.

“One of the key findings of this report was that the Department of Finance, in establishing this scheme, prescribed an overly restrictive definition of a disability,” said Mr Deering.

“If, as a country, we are committed to the full implementation of the Convention [on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities], we must ensure an inclusive approach to ensuring all those living with a disability can participate equally and actively in their community and in work. This includes people living with autism.”

'Completely unacceptable'

The Office of the Ombudsman has been highlighting issues on the matter for a very long time now, he said, and on each occasion it has published a report to say there was a difficulty, schemes were either withdrawn or made more restrictive.

"This is completely unacceptable," he said.

We often look back and ask how we let things happen. I think this is one of those things that we will look back on the time as well and say: 'How did we allow this to happen for over 10 years?'. 

You're talking about people with quite serious disabilities, who can't actually qualify, and transport really is a liberator for an awful lot of people, most particularly if you live in a rural area." 

"I do feel this is a very serious situation, and it's unacceptable that has been ignored by successive governments now for years. 

"We are told that something is happening at the moment; there is I know, a new committee put in place, but I really feel at this stage that we need action rather than committees." 

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