HEALTH MINISTER JAMES Reilly may be called to speak before an Oireachtas Committee on the Government’s failure to act on recommendations from the Ombudsman on the mobility allowance.
Yesterday, an Ombudsman report said that the Department of Health had ‘illegally’ put an age limit of 66 on the Mobility Allowance Scheme for people with a severe disability.
A spokesperson for Sinn Féin Deputy Peadar Tóibín said that the deputy is hoping that the Ombudsman will come in and present the report to the Committee on Investigations, Oversight and Petitions.
After this, it is up to the committee, who the Ombudsman reports to, to determine what it does next. The spokeperson said that Deputy Tóibín “would be keen to have ministers in to explain their position” and go through the findings of the report.
The report will be dealt with “as a matter of priority,” said the spokesperson, adding that the committee details what needs to happen next to hold the Government to account for not putting in the place the findings of the report.
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD criticised the Tánaiste for not delivering on the Government’s commitment to remove the illegal upper limit of 66 for the mobility allowance.
ALONE, the charity which provides vital supports older people in need of assistance, has expressed astonishment at the statement from the Department of Health in relation to the illegal capping of the age limit for the mobility allowance scheme.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, called the statement “extraordinary” and said that the fact that any Government department feels that it is above the fair application of the law “is frightening”. He said that the provision of service and allowances must be based on equality and need, not on age. ALONE is calling on the Department to act immediately to ensure that they are complying with the law.
Meanwhile, the Disability Federation of Ireland’s chief executive, John Dolan, said that people with disabilities “have already had a dreadful experience with the Department of Health only last September” over the PA (Personal Assistant) service.
Now the same Department seeks to justify noncompliance with the law on the basis that it would “create liabilities for the State”. The fact is that the State has a “liability” to people who require supports and assistance. That Ireland is in a bailout programme does not dilute the State’s obligation to provide necessary services.