Dáil Éireann - Volume 507 - 29 June, 1999
Written Answers. - Services for People with Disabilities.
Mr. Finucane Mr. Finucane
111. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Finance the consideration, if any, he will give to including blind persons under the disabled drivers' and disabled passengers' tax refund scheme in view of the fact the blind will qualify as passengers only; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16508/99]
Mr. McCreevy Mr. McCreevy
Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I refer the Deputy, for his information, to the reply to the Adjournment debate held on 2 March 1999 which dealt comprehensively with the matter of extending the scheme to the visually impaired. In addition, I refer the Deputy to the reply to the Adjournment debate held in the Seanad on 23 June, 1999 and my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 13 dated 24 June, 1999, both of which dealt comprehensively with the extension of the scheme in general.
 The present medical criteria for access to the scheme relate essentially to disabilities which seriously and permanently impair the physical mobility of the person concerned. This reflects the origins of the scheme as a relief for disabled persons who were confined to wheelchairs, but nevertheless, were capable of driving suitably adapted motor cars.
A review of the scheme is being undertaken by an interdepartmental group chaired by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The existing medical criteria for qualification is one of the issues that have been raised with that group. I believe that the proper course of action is to complete the review and to consider the options which may then arise.
However, the cost of the current scheme has been steadily increasing and opening it up to wider ranges of disabilities would significantly add to this cost. I must caution, therefore, against an expectation that any person who suffers from some form of disability will be able to benefit from the scheme following the completion of this review.
Dáil Éireann 507 Written Answers. Services for People with Disabilities.