Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the ongoing delay in introducing a new Transport Support Scheme to replace the removal of the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grants as a lethal lethargy at the heart of the government’s disability strategy. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, confirmed to him in a parliamentary reply that a Cabinet Memorandum for a new transport scheme brought forward in conjunction with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, had to be withdrawn after it was found to be totally insufficient:
“Minister McGrath has confirmed to me that the decision to withdraw the Memorandum from the cabinet Agenda occurred on 8 May last.
Essentially what this means is that Cabinet and perhaps the Attorney General took one look at their proposals and rubbished them.
Not only is this highly embarrassing for both Ministers; it also demonstrates that there is still, even after the five years that have passed since the scrapping of the Mobility Allowance, no effective proposals on the table to help the recipients who were left in the lurch by them Minister for Health, James Reilly in 2013.
In November of 2016 Minister McGrath informed me that the legislation required to introduce the new transport schemes was still at draft stage.
Almost 7 months after that the Taoiseach confirmed to me during the Order of Business that no further progress had been made.
Now here we are in August 2018 and a Cabinet Memorandum on the issue has had to be withdrawn to allow the two hapless Ministers time “to revert to Government with revised proposals to reflect the discussion at Cabinet.”
The Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grant were lifelines to thousands of families and individuals who relied on them.
It was bad enough to have had both schemes unceremoniously dumped without consultation with stakeholders but it is even worse that nothing has emerged to replace them in over half a decade of “work on alternative policy proposals,” concluded Deputy McGrath.