Ross criticises illegal use as demand for disabled spaces rises

Minister expresses support for Garda crackdown on fraudulent use of parking permits

On the first day of the Garda campaign against illegal use of disability parking permits 11 were reported to have been seized. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

On the first day of the Garda campaign against illegal use of disability parking permits 11 were reported to have been seized. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has expressed his support for a Garda campaign to crack down on the fraudulent use of parking spaces for people with disabilities.

On the first day of the campaign earlier this month 11 permits were reported to have been seized. One of the permits had been forged and another photocopied.

Mr Ross said he had been actively involved in raising awareness about the “unfairness of using such spaces where it is not justified”.

“I strongly support a recent Garda campaign to crack down on fraudulent use.”

Such illegal use was happening alongside an increased demand for disabled person’s parking permits and a limited number of spaces available, he said.

The Minister made his comments as concerns were highlighted about the difficulty for people with mobility problems getting a permit.

Mr Ross pledged to write to Minister for Planning Simon Coveney to consider directing local authorities to make provision for more parking spaces for disabled people.

Appeal refused

Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart had raised the issue because of an 83-year-old constituent whose appeal against being denied a permit was refused by the Ombudsman.

He said the Ombudsman was concerned that the scheme as framed was overly rigid and inflexible and might well be causing inequality.

Raising the issue in the Dáil this week Mr Lahart said his constituent did not meet the strict criteria for the permit but she had limited use of her limbs in accessing her car.

“She has some use of her, as she puts it, good right leg. Her left leg is only a balance, while her left hip to the knee is stiff at all times,” he said.

She could not use public transport because of her inability to mount steps and high footpaths. “Any slight flexibility in this scheme could provide a better quality of life for her and for other people in her position.”

The Minister told him he would see what could be done in the individual’s case.

He said the scheme was administered by the Irish Wheelchair Association and the Disabled Drivers Association. It is available to people whose mobility is permanently severely restricted, whether they are drivers or passengers, and to people registered as being blind.

He noted that “disability groups were unhappy that some people are being issued with disability parking permits because they have a particular condition rather than a mobility impairment”.

He cited that some cardiac conditions could seriously affect mobility, but not all sufferers had mobility issues.

The scheme was subsequently reformed to offer permits on the basis of mobility impairment only.

Acknowledging the “discretionary and subjective judgment” involved in assessing entitlement to permits Mr Ross said Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath was working on a new motor transport Bill for 4,700 people with disabilities and it might be appropriate to be included in that.