I thank the Deputy for raising this important matter. As he is aware, this is a very important scheme, the cost of which was, in 2019 and excluding motor tax, €72 million. To repeat what I have said, this scheme is important for many and I understand the many demands on it.
It is open to severely and permanently disabled persons as a driver or as a passenger, and it is open to certain organisations. To qualify for relief, an organisation must be entered in the register of charitable organisations under Part 3 of the Charities Act 2009.
To qualify for relief, the following criteria apply. The applicant must hold a primary medical certificate issued by the relevant senior area medical officer or a board medical certificate issued by the Disabled Driver Medical Board of Appeal. The vehicle may be a new or a used vehicle but must be specially constructed or adapted for use by the applicant. It must be purchased by the applicant. This criterion includes vehicles purchased through hire purchase agreements but excludes vehicles which have been purchased by way of a leasing arrangement. The engine capacity of the vehicle must not exceed 6,000 cc.
The Deputy is aware of the criteria for being granted a primary medical certificate. This scheme was first introduced in 1968, at which point the legislation only allowed for one medical ground. In 1989, four new medical grounds were added and, in 1994, one new medical ground was added.
A Supreme Court decision of 18 June found in favour of two appellants against the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal's refusal to grant them a primary medical certificate. The judgment found that the medical criteria set out in the regulations did not align with the regulation-making mandate given in the primary legislation to define further criteria.
I will answer in more detail in a moment.
Additional information not give on the floor of the House
The judgement found that the medical criteria set out in the regulations did not align with the regulation-making mandate given in the primary legislation to define further criteria for "severely and permanently disabled" persons.
The Deputy will appreciate that the Supreme Court decision has raised complex legal and policy issues which will require careful consideration. In parallel to that consideration there is a need to examine how best the scheme can target resources to those persons who most need them. My officials are examining the judgement in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office and will bring forward any policy and-or legislative proposals, as necessary, for my consideration in due course.