Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) deeply concerned at Department of Health's Disregard for the Law

October 25 2012

Justice Law (small)

25th October 2012

The Department of Health accepted that it was not in compliance with equality legislation by refusing applications on age grounds for the Mobility Allowance Scheme. The Department undertook to redress the situation and to have it resolved over a year ago; however it is now saying that it will not comply with the legislation because to do so “would create liabilities the State could not afford.” The response of the Ombudsman is “that the continued disregard of the law by a key State body is quite unacceptable.”

John Dolan, Chief Executive, DFI said today, “People with disabilities have already had a dreadful experience with the Department of Health only last September, when it took decisions relating to the shutting down of the PA (Personal Assistant) service, for the remainder of the year. This seemingly was done to make hurried savings in response to criticisms from the Troika, relating to over runs to the health budget. 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. Both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste have stated that disability and mental health is their social justice priority in Government. That commitment made by our most senior government representatives does not seem to have found its way to the Department of Health”

Dolan went on to say, “The Taoiseach and the Government must take a view and a stance on the decisions regarding disability services emanating from the Department of Health. There is also an issue here for the reputation and credibility of Government. Government expects people to uphold the law, to obey traffic regulations, to be tax compliant - and surely the same must hold for Government. The Oireachtas enacted the Equal Status Act 2000 and there is a primary responsibility on Government Departments to uphold it. How are people with disabilities and their organisations expected to continue to work with the HSE and others in a spirit of cooperation to support service provision, when the lead Department regards its constrained budget situation as excusing it from operating within the law”.

Dolan concluded, “The recent publication by the Department of Health of the “Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services, firmly endorses the policy direction of ensuring that people can remain active participants in the community. This decision on the Mobility Allowance Scheme runs counter to the 'active participants' policy and is specifically targeted at older people, who have also had cuts to home care and home support packages.”


For contact: John Dolan, CEO, 086-7957467

Allen Dunne, Deputy CEO 086-8502112

Young Communications, 087-2471520