TIPPERARY’S Centre for Independent Living (TCIL) hosted a meeting between the county’s Oireachtas members and people with disabilities in Thurles on Friday to drive home the message that cuts to the mobility allowance will cause untold hardship and isolation for people living in rural areas.
The allowance is either J52 per week or J104, and is only open to those who can prove they cannot walk and need to travel. “It’s means tested so you have to be on an extremely low income to be eligible,” says Leigh Gath, a disability rights advocate from Pallaskenry in Limerick.
“You have to be completely unable to walk. It’s very hard to get on the list - a medical test has to be done. Only about 2% of people with disabilities are getting this grant at the moment.” Leigh is a member of the Leaders Alliance, a group set up to resist any cuts in personal assistance service funding.
The government plans to use the money saved from cutting the grant to subsidise community transport instead. But this is impractical and awkward insists Leigh.
“What do you do if you have one person living at one end of Tipperary and another person at the other end? Both of them might have an appointment in Limerick Regional Hospital. That means the first person collected will be on a bus for about three hours each way, and then they’ll have to sit in the hospital for about eight hours after their appointment waiting to get home. That’s not conducive to most peoples’ disabilities.”
The government is “going back to the 1960’s” and stripping disabled people of their dignity and independence, adds Leigh. “We’re all to be put on to buses like cattle. It’s purely a cost-saving exercise.”
Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.