Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte says she’s extremely disappointed at the Finance Minister’s complete reluctance to examine the possibility of extending the Drivers and Passengers with Disabilities Scheme to visually impaired people.

In reply to a Parliamentary Question, Minister Noonan claims that while he has “sympathy with those who do not qualify for Scheme, I cannot, given the scale and scope of the Scheme, expand it further within the current context of constrained resources”.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “I am regularly contacted by families who would have previously qualified for the Mobility Allowance or the Motorised Transport Grant, but who have now been left in limbo as they do not meet the strict criteria of the Drivers and Passengers with Disabilities Scheme.

“Visually impaired people have fallen between the cracks and the Finance Minister is refusing to consider extending the terms of the Drivers and Passengers with Disabilities Scheme to include them.  I think this is incredibly unfair.  People with a visual impairment living outside the main towns and cities do not always have access to public transport and are forced to rely on family and friends to help get from A to B.

“Minister Noonan claims the scheme is for people with “severe physical disabilities” but fails to concede that a visual impairment is a severe physical disability.  The fat that he would not even cost an extension of the scheme clearly demonstrates his dismissal of people with a visual impairment, which I find extremely disappointing.

“I will be continuing to put pressure on Ministers Noonan and Harris to consider an extension of the Drivers and Passengers with Disabilities Scheme to people with visual impairments”.