Personal transport supports for people with disabilites are inadequate, Ombudsman finds

Two schemes discontinued by Government were never replaced, report says

Legacy issues surrounding the Motorised Transport Grant and Mobility Allowance payment were raised in the Ombudsman’s report. Photograph: iStock

Personal transport supports for people with disabilities are “inadequate, unfair and inequitable”, according to a new report from the Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall.

Three government schemes were sharply criticised in the report, which was released on Tuesday.

In the report, legacy issues surrounding the Motorised Transport Grant and Mobility Allowance payment were raised.

The Motorised Transport Grant was a payment for people who needed to buy or adapt a car to retain employment. The maximum grant allowed was €5,020.


The Mobility Allowance was a payment for those who could not walk or use public transport, but would benefit from a change in surroundings, for example by financing the occasional taxi journey.

It was a means-tested monthly payment for people aged 16-66.

In 2011 and 2012, investigations by former Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, found that the eligibility criteria for these two schemes were in breach of the Equal Status Acts.

The Government decided to close the schemes to new entrants in 2013, and a replacement scheme was promised but never materialised.

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme is also beset with problems, which were first highlighted as far back as 2001, according to the report.

The scheme provides a range of tax reliefs on specially constructed or adapted vehicles for drivers and passengers with a disability.

To qualify, the person must have a Primary Medical Certificate from the HSE, which is granted when the person meets one of six medical criteria.

The Ombudsman says the criteria is extremely limited and excessively restrictive.

The criteria states that the person must be one of the following: completely or almost completely without the use of both legs; completely without the use of one leg and almost completely without the use of the other leg; without both hands or both arms; without one or both legs; completely or almost completely without the use of both hands or arms and completely or almost completely without the use of one leg; have the medical condition of “dwarfism” and experience serious difficulties moving the legs.

The report contained case studies of people who were refused access to the scheme.

A woman named Orla wrote to the Ombudsman about her son, Tadhg. He is in his twenties and has Down syndrome and autism.

He is also non-verbal and needs full-time care. “Tadhg is a very strong young man and can physically lash out at times,” the report states.

In her complaint, Orla said that Tadhg can get very frustrated, and the situation worsened due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the lockdown, Orla used to take Tadhg for a drive in the car, to calm him.

However, his behaviour can be challenging in the car, and one time he was able to reach from the back seat and put his arms around the driver’s neck, forcing the car to a sudden halt.

Unfortunately, Tadhg’s parents had to stop taking him for a drive as a result.

Tadhg has been repeatedly refused a Primary Medical Certificate, meaning his parents cannot adapt their car to make it suitable for his needs.

All of these issues mean that people with disabilities are stuck at home and unable to take up employment or engage with their community, according to Mr Tyndall.

“The reports published by the Ombudsman since 2012 highlight the same issues over and over again. I am very concerned that they appear to have effectively been ignored and that nine years later, there is no evidence of any real progress.”