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Human Rights Practice: Disability and the Mobility Allowance

February 27th, 2013 · 7 Comments · Disability, Equality

Today, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, makes Ireland’s first address to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Ireland was elected to the council last year and will sit on it until 2015.

Meanwhile back at the ranch

1. Irish Government found to be breaching equality laws by not assisting older people with disabilities through the Mobility Allowance (Ombudsman’s Report) and Motorised Transport Grant (Ombudsman’s Report) . Had been told by their rights agencies for several years that they were in the wrong.

(The Mobility Allowance is a means tested monthly payment payable by the Health Service Executive (HSE). It is paid to people who are aged 16 and over and under age 66, and who have a disability and are unable to walk or use public transport and ‘who would benefit from a change in surroundings’; (for example, by financing the occasional taxi journey).

2. Government avoid issue of their illegality and discrimination for months, then admit they are in the wrong and finally say that they will have to reform scheme but don’t say how or when. They say if they were to obey the law they could not afford to do so.

3. Twenty days later they scrap scheme entirely before reviewing it so no new people including those on the ever growing waiting lists for a year and more can get it. (In their release scrapping the scheme they list info on other options for people with disabilities many of which are only accessible to people in certain areas and if people have money to pay for the services like taxis and Vantastic or if someone can come pick someone up at a time and place of the services choosing and availability. But there will not be an allowance or it will be reviewed so people won’t have the money to pay or will not be entitled to it. They even mention availability of car parking – but not how one is supposed to have a car to park in it or get a car adapted so you could get into it. )

4. Government say there will be a review for a new scheme but BEFORE the review starts or is completed tell people that already get the allowance that they will also lose the allowance (€208 per month) after 4 months.

5. So in summary Irish Government Human Rights practice: Bad enough they were discriminating against older people with disabilities but now the 5000 people who got the allowance (Total budget €10.9 million) are going to lose it and the hundreds who were on waiting lists for it are told to ‘feck off you are not getting it because Government were infringing human rights of some people who should have got it.’

The Office of the Ombudsman is ignored and now regrets the Government decision, the Equality Authority is toothless and rudderless, and the National Disability Authority – well who knows what they are doing. And oh Ireland has still not fully ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The 1871 Lunacy Act and failure to revoke it prevents her from doing so.

Human Rights – Irish style.


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7 Comments so far

  • Margaret Kennedy

    Amm off to protest outside Dail Gates. Will be there 12 midday – enough is enough

  • Tony Regan

    Well written, and you got several issues raised in this.
    But what a mess, eh? Surely the way to deal with this was to find a leegal alternative and then change it, rather than scrapping the Mobility Allowance and Mortorised Transport Grant – and leave nothing!
    People will become housebound again! and we know where that leads!
    What a daft lot!

  • Miriam Cotton

    Excellent post. When it comes to estimating the callousness of our political establishment, there is no such thing as paranoia. This is the vulgar and vicious response to having an unwelcome but much deserved dressing down from Emily O’ Reilly on manifestly illegal behaviour by successive governments. People with disability are not even in the consideration. If nothing else, the sheer political ineptitude of this decision tells us how disgustingly crass our politicians are. For Kathleen Lynch to lend herself to defending this insult should tell people everything they need to know about what values the coalition really hold. Lynch should have been at the forefront of vehement protest if she was in any sense true to public profile she has cultivated for herself. But as with all Labour party people, they want the glory of the principle to attach to them without any of the effort of actually sticking to it. People with disability are being sacrificed on the altar of political vanity and ambition at every turn.

  • ClaireG

    So is this how the government intends to ‘activate’ people with disabilities-by taking away what little autonomy and independence they have?

  • ann kennedy

    yes, when i say we do this ‘the irish way’ then thats the way we do it.
    putting it in your words it all sounds utterly daft way of running a country and taking charge.
    we as a nation dont take charge. we have this attitude that if there is a problem let it stew for as long as possible and then say to many ‘we must move on’ that is ‘forget this wee problem and er, move on!\
    yes. very irish.
    the equality authority are toothless and rudderless? tell me more on this please. as for kathleen lynch ‘agonizing’ sure she was, sleepless over this! we are in one mess and the disability groups should and must rise up and revolt. we cannot remain passive and be subjected to every cut in the book and one a month at this rate anyway

  • Brian Judd

    Kathleen Lynch is a self serving careerist politician perfectly suitable to lead this “cruel and pitiless” State in the areas of disability, ageism and equality.

  • Peter Moore

    Well said Miriam Cotton. Kathleen Lynch should be asked what is it like to be a mudguard for James O’Reilly. These entitlements go back to Liam Maguire (subject of my book, Rebel On Wheels) who in 1967 refused to pay Road Tax and was sommoned to court . Road Tax for disabled drivers was scrapped in the next budget and the rest followed in years to come. I am currently thinking of Liam and all he done, along with other disabled activists of his time, with great sadness.