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Special needs children and their mother launch High Court action to obtain disabled parking permit

The action arose after the mother of the children was refused a disabled parking permit.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

A NUMBER OF special needs children and their mother have launched a High Court action claiming that the laws governing disabled parking permit entitlements breaches their constitutional rights.

The action arose after the mother, who is the children’s full-time carer, applied for and was refused a disabled parking permit.

Derek Shortall BL for the family, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the court that the permit was needed on health and safety grounds as it would allow the mother to find parking much quicker and closer to essential services.

It would also limit the amount of time the children, some of whom who need to be restrained when travelling, have to spend in the the car.

Counsel said Section 35 of the 1994 Road Traffic Act and Article 43 of the 1997 Road Traffic Regulations, which regulate parking of vehicles and the issuing of disabled person’s parking permits, define a disabled person as somebody with walking difficulties.

The children in this case can walk, but counsel said they have been diagnosed with various conditions, including sensory difficulties, autism and ADHD.

Due to their complex conditions their behaviour can be challenging, counsel said, adding that some of the children have no sense of danger and can bolt from the car once it stops.

He also said that a second adult is generally required when the family take a trip in the car, which it is claimed can be extremely difficult for the family.

‘Discriminatory’ regulations

Counsel said it is the applicant’s case that the rules and regulations governing who is entitled to the permits are too rigid, disproportionate, too wide and discriminatory.

Under the current laws, there is no power to create different categories of disabled persons, it is argued.

It is also claimed that the rules and regulations challenged are unconstitutional and contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights because they discriminate against and exclude the children’s mother from getting a disabled person’s parking permit.

The proceedings are against the IWA Ltd, trading as the Irish Wheelchair Association, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Ireland and the Attorney General.

Counsel told the court the IWA are the entity designated by the government to make decisions on applications for permits.

Counsel said last February the family applied for, but was refused a permit.

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HSE supportive

The IWA’s counsel said the association was very apologetic about its decision, but said that as the rules currently stand, it could not grant the family the permit.

Counsel added that agencies including the HSE are supportive of the family’s application for the permit.

In their action, the applicants seek an order disallowing the IWA’s decision not to grant the family a disabled parking permit.

They also various seek declarations including that sections of the 1994 Road Traffic Act, and 1997 Traffic and Parking regulations are repugnant to Articles 15 and 40 of the constitution.

The matter came before Mr Justice Michael Quinn, who directed that the application for leave be heard on notice to the respondents.

The case will return before the court later this month.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons.

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About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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