Deputy Thomas Pringle has said the assessment process for the Primary Medical Certificate must be reformed, calling it “in no way fit for purpose” in its current form.
Addressing the Dáil today, he said this was a major issue in Co Donegal.
Deputy Pringle said: “This is a big issue in my constituency, and I have been contacted by many constituents who have clear evidence and documentation of their disability, but somehow do not meet the very limited Primary Medical Certificate criteria.
“It should be the case that if a GP believes that a person should qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, then they should be given this automatically,” he said.
Deputy Pringle was speaking in support of the Regional Independents motion on mobility and transport supports for people with disabilities.
He said: “People with disabilities should be able to live a full and independent life and they should be given the same opportunities as everyone else to be fully active in our communities.”
The deputy added the transport system in this country is not only completely inadequate, but it is a system of inequality.
He added “Transport services for those with disabilities are few and far between, especially in my constituency of Donegal where the transport infrastructure continues to lag behind the rest of the country.
“I have been contacted by many constituents who are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of mobility and transport supports, especially since the scaling back of these supports during Covid-19.
“The lack of support means that many people with disabilities are missing out on employment, sports, entertainment and other activities. This is not only incredibly discriminatory, but we as a society lose out when we don’t ensure that all people can participate fully and freely in our communities,” he said.
The deputy said people with disabilities must also have a voice in decision-making roles in the country.
Deputy Pringle said a number of steps are needed, including a complete review of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme and a replacement scheme for the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant.
He said: “It is a complete disgrace that nothing has replaced this allowance since it was discontinued in 2013. Those who relied on this allowance and this grant have been left without it for almost a decade and I call on the government to replace this with a new and equal scheme as soon as possible.”
Disability Services must be returned to full capacity, he said.
Deputy Pringle said: “Donegal disability centres, such as Cashel na Cor in Buncrana, are still working at reduced capacity. I have been contacted by constituents in relation to the ongoing situation at the centre where service users can only get two days per week at the centre. This is very upsetting for both the service users and their families. The service users are adults with many of their parents and carers who are elderly and need the service to be returned to at least a five-day per week service.”
The deputy concluded: “I hope that the government acts on this sooner rather than later and that we take the steps necessary to ensure a fair and equal society for all in this country.”