Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Cork East Cllr. James O’Connor has called for changes to the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme (DDDPS) to cater for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and severe sensory disabilities.

The scheme provides tax concessions for people buying new vehicles.

Cllr. O’Connor said, “I have been contacted by a number of local families with children with severe autism and other serious sensory issues who are finding it increasingly difficult to access supports though our health and education systems.

“One of the issues that has come up time and time again is access to transport. Some children with autism or sensory issues are simply not able to take public transport as it is too overwhelming for them. Getting to school in the morning can be problematic, not to mention appointments outside of school surroundings.

“Parents need to be able to bring their kids from one place to another in a safe and suitable vehicle. The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme (DDDPS) could be one way of making that an affordable option. However, in order to qualify, applicants need a Primary Medical Cert and the criteria for that are extremely limited.

“So much so that the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has described the current system as “overly rigid and inflexible” and has said it “may well be causing inequity”.

“I believe that people with ASD or severe sensory issues should qualify for the scheme and I have raised this issue with my Fianna Fáil colleagues in Leinster House, and is due to be raised in the Seanad in the upcoming weeks. I will also be bringing forward a motion through Cork County Council”, concluded Cllr. O’Connor.