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Matthews calls for free travel passes for all those unable to drive due to Epilepsy diagnosis

Date: 1 June 2021

Green Party TD, Steven Matthews was speaking in support of the free travel pass proposal which was one of the campaigns led by Epilepsy Ireland as part of National Epilepsy Week. Discussing the initiative, Deputy Matthews said:

“Firstly, I have to thank Epilepsy Ireland for their huge amount of work across the country to raise awareness of the impact that epilepsy has on the day to day lives of people diagnosed with the condition. It’s perhaps an issue that doesn’t get enough attention and I welcomed the engagement with constituents seeking my support for the campaign but also in bringing my attention to a number of key issues related to epilepsy that I hadn’t known previously.

“It is estimated that 1,160 people in Wicklow are living with epilepsy, with a national figure of over 40,000, so it’s highly likely that we all at the very least know of someone with the condition. Something that I was made aware of was that if a person holds a driving license and is diagnosed with epilepsy or has a breakthrough seizure, they will automatically lose their license until they are one year seizure free. Losing your driver’s license in this way, through no fault of your own, has a hugely detrimental impact on someone’s personal freedoms and day to day lives.

“In support of Epilepsy Ireland’s campaign, I have written to the Minister for Social Protection to ask her to consider offering all those who lose their driving license due to a diagnosis of epilepsy a free travel pass for all public transport. I look forward to his response and to working with Epilepsy Ireland going forward on this issue.

“I am aware of cases in areas of Wicklow whereby students have considered dropping out of college due to the accumulated cost of transport as they were left with car repayments, despite being off the road, on top of the cost of public transport. From my discussions with Epilepsy Ireland, this financial strain can be quite common, particularly in the first year after diagnosis.

“The last thing I want to see is people feeling isolated and reducing their independence, particularly at a time when we are slowly reopening our society after such a challenging period. This small gesture of solidarity and support, offering free travel passes to all those unable to drive due to an epilepsy diagnosis, is something I am strongly in favour of, concluded Deputy Matthews.



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