Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon has called on the Transport Minister to extend the disability parking scheme to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Deputy Scanlon is warning that substantial increases in supports for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s are needed over the coming years to cope with our ageing population.

He raised the issue with Minister Shane Ross in the Dáil earlier this week.

“The rollout of disability parking badges to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s would significantly improve the lives of people living with these conditions and their families.  The majority of sufferers want to live at home and continue going about their daily lives, in as far as is possible.  The provision of the disability parking badge would allow them to continue to daily activities like shopping, attending appointments or meeting people in town”, explained Deputy Scanlon.

Accessible parking bays are located near amenities for people to access work, education, public transport, post offices, shops, banks and hospitals, and their value cannot be underestimated.  I recently spoke with a woman who dropped her husband, who has dementia, off at the door of the hospital while she went to park.  When she got back to the hospital door, her husband was missing.  Luckily, with the help of the Gardaí, she found him a mile and a half away.  The man could have walked out in front of a lorry or car.  He was simply not capable of managing on his own.

“These cards support people’s right to inclusion.  European parking cards can be used by disabled people within the EU and they are also recognised in the United States and Canada.  Extending the scheme would guarantee independence, dignity and choice for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as their carers.

“Despite claiming to be sympathetic to the cause, Minister Shane Ross does not appear to be moving on this issue.  He said that he remains “open to considering improvements to the scheme that may be needed in the future”, however, I fear that this means putting this issue on the back burner.  I will be continuing to press this important issue, which affects tens of thousands of people across this country, with the Minister over the coming weeks and months”, concluded Deputy Scanlon.