McNamara seeks updated criteria for Disabled Drivers & Disabled Passengers Scheme

Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara says the Government must urgently update the medical criteria for persons wishing to secure a primary medical certificate in order to benefit from the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme (DDDPS).

Deputy McNamara said the Scheme, which provides relief from Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT linked to the purchase and use of specially constructed or adapted vehicles by drivers and passengers with a disability, remains out of reach to thousands of people across Ireland.

Raising the issue in Dáil Éireann with Finance Minister Michael McGrath, Deputy McNamara urged the Government to speed up the introduction of updated criteria as “people have waited long enough.”

He also criticised previous Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe for introducing a change to legislation in 2020 that resulted in additional limitations for persons wishing to access the Scheme.

“The Minister’s predecessor, who is, in almost every regard, a thoroughly decent man, did something quite indecent, with the support of the House, in one of the budgets that was passed down in the convention centre. The Supreme Court struck down the statutory instruments as being far too restrictive. Basically, in order to comply with the parent Act, a person almost had to be missing a limb to qualify. It was far too restrictive,” explained Deputy McNamara,

He continued, “Instead of just passing a new statutory instrument and continuing the scheme, the then Minister changed the primary legislation to make that more restrictive and buried it in the detail of a vote on the budget. It was completely buried. I never heard it mentioned it in his speech or any other speech, yet it is now the law on which people are relying and it is what is precluding people from exercising their independence and mobility.”

“We need to make sure this is dealt with in the next budget,” said Deputy McNamara. “If a new scheme cannot be put in place in a timely manner even though everyone accepts it would be the ideal solution, the Minister should change the budgetary measures that were brought in by the previous Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, and allow for a more open scheme. We need a time commitment on this.”

In response, Minister McGrath said he would lend his full to getting a new scheme, which will be a grant-based scheme based on the needs of individuals, in place.

He said, “I am very much aware of the report on the cost of disability. The Government responded last year, albeit in the form of a once-off payment of an additional €500 to people in receipt of disability allowance, for example. In the lead-up to the budget, we will consider what we can do to provide assistance to people with a disability.”

Responding to Deputy McNamara’s request for the issue to be placed on the agenda for next week’s Cabinet meeting, the Minister said, “The Taoiseach gave a commitment last week on the floor of the Dáil. He will be convening a meeting of the relevant Departments to put in place a process that will quickly lead to a fit-for-purpose modern scheme being developed and I will provide my full support to that process.”