"From the day Tom was born, everything that we ever applied for has been a dog fight"

Tom Winters got mobility support of €104 a month which is now being withdrawn

Tom Winters got mobility support of €104 a month which is now being withdrawn

Thu, Feb 28, 2013, 00:00

Case studiesPeople receiving mobility allowances have expressed their dismay over news the support payments are to be discontinued.

Niall Winters said he and his wife are already hard pressed to provide for their 16-year-old son, Tom, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

He said that Tom, a “full time” wheelchair user, is particularly susceptible to pneumonia, so “we have to have the heat on at all times because he hasn’t got the muscles or the strength to fight cold. It takes an awful lot with the price of oil at the moment to even heat our house”.

Twice a month he drives Tom from their home in Trim, Co Meath to Limerick for power soccer, a version of football for wheelchair users. “It costs me at least €100 to go up and down to Limerick, to buy him food and to put diesel into the van.”

Tom was recently granted mobility support of €104 a month “and now they’re taking it away from him”, his father said.

“From the day Tom was born, everything that we ever applied for has been a dog fight. You feel like you’re after being in a battle, and when you think you’ve kind of won the battle . . . then you get a kick in the teeth.”

He said Tom constantly hears that things can not be done because there is no money. “That’s the last thing he’s going to hear before he dies. I haven’t even got the money to bury him . . . and then they come along and do this. I really am upset over it.

“How can you give a TD travelling expenses and then take away travelling expenses from a child that can’t even move and the only bit of enjoyment he has in life is this soccer that he goes to.”

Meanwhile, Darragh Moore (44) said he was “shocked and appalled” by the decision. “I’m a wheelchair user, I have multiple sclerosis, I’m losing my eyesight, so I rely very heavily on the allowance I receive towards taxis and the like so that I can get from A to B,” he said. Mr Moore, a former PR consultant from Greystones, Co Wicklow, said wheelchair users have been hit particularly hard by recent cutbacks.

“We’ve all been hit. I can’t see very well so what’s the alternative? Stay at home, don’t go anywhere; it’s not very encouraging, really.”