Reinstatement of disabled drivers scheme welcomed

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News that the HSE is resuming issuing primary medical certificates for the disabled drivers and passengers scheme after it was suspended earlier this year has been welcomed

Galway Roscommon TD Denis Naughten received confirmation from Minister Paschal Donohue this week that certificates will once again be issued after a court case in June resulted

Deputy Naughten welcomed the announced, after saying that the suspension of the scheme had left certain people “marooned in their own homes”.

The scheme provides drivers with tax relief for purchasing and adapting cars, as well as exemption from motor and fuel tax.

Galway East TD Seán Canney also raised the matter, saying that people who have been left in “limbo”, particularly those without access to public transport, need certainty about when they

Minister Paschal Donohue said that he has written to the HSE indicating that it should begin reissuing the required medical certificates.

“The effect of that communication, along with the amendment I will bring in, will be to restore the scheme to its original operation.”

However, Deputy Naughten expressed concern about the backlog of applications which has built up for the scheme since the HSE stopped issuing certificates, and sought reassurance that the personnel are in place to begin clearing it.

“My concern is that many of the staff who were processing these applications until June or July when they were suspended are now doing other work and dealing with Covid-19.

“While, in theory, the scheme has been reopened, the difficulty is there is no one to carry out the assessment. As a result, 1,500 people are being denied access to the disabled drivers scheme.”

Minister Donohue said that the resources should be in place for processing applications, and that he was not aware of issues relating to the availability of resources for processing applications.

“There is no change in the actual process in terms of who is carrying out the evaluation of the applications or in terms of the criteria for the applications being successful.”

Minister Donohue also said that it is intended to carry out a review of the disabled drivers scheme next year based on the Supreme Court ruling regarding a rejected application that led to the suspension of the scheme earlier this year.