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Enda Kenny accuses opposition of making 'political football' of disability cut

In heated exchanges in the Dáil this morning, the Taoiseach said the current disability transport payments are “illegal and obsolete”.

The Taoiseach speaking during Leaders' Questions today
The Taoiseach speaking during Leaders' Questions today
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas.ie

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has accused the opposition of making a ‘political football’ out of the scrapping of two disability transport payments.

In a heated Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this morning which was dominated by the issue, the Taoiseach said that the current payments scheme is both illegal and obsolete and had to be abolished.

He cited the overall cost of the scheme and said the State simply could not afford to continue paying the money “under the current circumstances”.

Echoing comments made earlier by junior health minister Kathleen Lynch, Enda Kenny said that the €10 million allocated this year for the payments is not being withdrawn but is being ringfenced for people who may need it.

The Taoiseach said the definition of disability has changed completely since 1979 when the criteria for receiving the allowance was first drawn up and accused Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin of having a ‘brass neck’ raising the issue given all the cuts implemented by Fianna Fáil during its time in government.

He said the Government will now have to rise to the challenge of creating a new scheme of access to transport and mobility for people who need it.

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Micheál Martin said the Taoiseach was trying to hide the reality of a very severe and unprecedented cut to people receiving just €190 per week.

Disability groups have said the abolition of the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant is “appalling” and will badly affect the 5,000 people in total who receive the money. The two allowances are to be scrapped in four months time and have been closed to new entrants.

Read: ‘Every other option was illegal – Minister defends disability payments cut >

Read: ‘A sick bureaucratic monster’ – Department slammed after disability payments axed >

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