Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming TD has called on the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to introduce equality for people with an intellectual disability in the scheme which provides supports and a new fuel grant for drivers and passengers with a disability.

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme provides a range of tax reliefs linked to the purchase and use of vehicles for passengers and drivers with a disability. Minister Noonan has also introduced a new fuel grant for people covered by the existing scheme.

Deputy Fleming commented, “Currently the scheme is only available for people who have a physical disability. People with an intellectual disability are barred from applying for support under the scheme. This discrimination against people with an intellectual disability is not acceptable and must be corrected straight away.

“I’ve spoken with a number of parents who have pointed out that they have to fit their cars with specialist equipment in order to ensure their children, who have a disability, can travel in safety and in comfort. For example some children who have Autism or Down Syndrome require specific car seats or adjustments to the vehicle to make them safe and suitable for them to travel in.

“The purchase and installation of such specialist equipment is very costly and it is wrong that they are excluded from this scheme. Adults with an intellectual disability are also excluded from this scheme.

“I believe it is only fair to allow people with intellectual disabilities to apply for this scheme. I was saddened and disappointed that the Minister rejected this request on cost grounds. The extension of this scheme to cover people with intellectual disabilities would transform people’s lives and give them the dignity they deserve to travel with family members and friends,” said Deputy Fleming.