Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Fine Gael Spokesperson for Equality, said, “One of the most significant impacts a diagnosis of epilepsy brings is the effect it can have on an individual’s independence and their ability to drive.
“There are many people with controlled epilepsy, but for those whose illness is uncontrolled, about 30% of people with epilepsy, they will never drive. This can be severely limiting, with many people relying on public transport.
“There are also huge practical implications for people who have been driving for years, and suddenly after a seizure, find themselves off the road for 12 months. The simple tasks of travelling to work, transporting children, and going shopping are instantly made much more difficult.
“While the free travel pass is normally based on the social welfare payment a person is in receipt of, a medical exemption has been made for people who are blind. A similar exemption is needed in this situation whereby people are told by the State to stay off the road for medical reasons.
“This is an issue that affects around 5,575 people across the country. It is a relatively small number, but for those who experience a seizure or are unable to have control over their illness, the impact really is huge. For many people it means a loss of independence, and for some it can even mean a loss of earnings.
“I recently raised this issue in the Dáil with Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys. I welcome her engagement and in particular her decision to meet with Epilepsy Ireland to discuss their proposal for travel passes. I very much look forward to hearing the outcome of this meeting in the first quarter of 2022.
“Engagement is also needed from Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, and I hope to see serious progress on this over the coming months to give freedom and independence back to those who urgently need it,” concluded Deputy Carroll MacNeill.
Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill is available for interview