Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has expressed concern following reports that the eligibility criteria for disability payments could be changed. This would see teens having to wait an extra two years before being able to claim these essential payments.
Commenting on the matter Deputy Murphy O’Mahony said, “I am deeply concerned about reports that the age threshold for disability payments may be increased. At the moment, the minimum age threshold to qualify for the Disability Allowance is 16. I’m worried that the Social Protection Minister is considering increasing this threshold to 18, if reports are to be believed.
“The Fine Gael/Labour Government was forced into an embarrassing climb down on this very issue in 2013 amid staunch opposition from the disability sector. I would hope that the new Government will be cognisant of the very real concerns raised by disability groups then, and will be mindful of this before they try again to press ahead with such a proposal.
“While I am fully in favour of actively supporting people with disabilities into further education and employment, I believe this requires a holistic approach. Any programme or system that is put in place to facilitate people with disabilities into education or employment must first and foremost be centred on the needs and the rights of the individual concerned. It is imperative that this new Government does not continue with the harsh and punitive policies that were the hallmark of the previous administration.
“Fianna Fáil will not support policies that we believe contravene the fundamental principle of fairness. People with disabilities must be given every opportunity to reach their full potential, but this should be done in a manner that is progressive, inclusive and fair”.