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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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