We believe that people with epilepsy who lose their driving license due to a diagnosis of epilepsy or breakthrough seizures should be automatically given access to a free travel pass. We also believe that the free travel scheme must become a standalone scheme so that people can apply directly for the benefit.
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. We are aware of cases where a person with epilepsy has had to give up work or education due to the costs associated with public transport. As a result, they then depend on state welfare payments which can have an impact on their independence and can lead to a person becoming socially isolated. Automatic access to free travel for this group who have lost their license would help prevent this from happening in the future.
For the cases of people who have uncontrolled seizures and for those who make a conscious decision not to drive, they too will be faced with financial implications. Some people, particularly those living with ongoing, uncontrolled seizures, will be able to access a free travel pass via qualifying payments such as disability allowance or invalidity pension. However, many will not qualify as they do not meet the strict medical criteria for these schemes. What people with epilepsy need is for the Free Travel scheme to become a standalone scheme so they can apply directly for the free travel pass in order to help them with costs of travel which results from their condition.
Update - October 2023
In the Budget for 2024, a commitment has been made to "to provide free travel for people medically certified unfit to drive" with the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD commenting:
I am particularly pleased to expand my Department's Free Travel Pass to support people who are medically certified as unable to drive. I want to acknowledge the work of Epilepsy Ireland who I have engaged with over the last two years on this matter. This is a small change but it will make a big difference.
It is expected this change will be implemented by July 2024 and we will provide further updates on the details around this in this section below.
The below are some of the latest updates on this matter and associated articles in the news section of our website where you can read more.
- February 2024 - Minister Heather Humphreys officially announces expansion of Free Travel scheme on #EpilepsyDay!
- October 2023 - Free Travel changes discussed in Dáil
- October 2023 - Minister speaks on Free Travel changes
- October 2023 - Independent.ie website; Wicklow TD welcomes free travel passes for people living with epilepsy
- October 2023 - Fine Gael website; Budget 2024 extends Free Travel scheme for those with epilepsy – Burke
- October 2023 - Free Travel Budget Commitment welcomed in the Seanad
- October 2023 - Gov.ie website; Minister Humphreys announces record Social Protection Budget worth €2.3 Billion
- October 2023 - Budget 24 – New measures to be introduced to Free Travel Scheme
- October 2023 - New developments on EI’s Free Travel campaign
- September 2023 - Epilepsy Ireland to meet with Minister for Social Protection on Free Travel.
- July 2023 - Oireachtas Committee recommends extension of Free Travel scheme to people with epilepsy
- June 2023 - Epilepsy Ireland make Budget Submission to Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection regarding Free Travel
- May 2023 - Epilepsy Ireland Free Travel campaign raised in Dáil during #EpilepsyWeek
- April 2023 - Epilepsy Ireland write to Minister regarding Free Travel Proposals
- February 2023 - Irish Epilepsy League write to Minister in support of EI Free Travel Proposals
- February 203 - Free Travel Campaign raised during Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection
- December 2022 - Free Travel campaign raised during Debate on Social Welfare Bill
- November 2022 - Report on Epilepsy Ireland proposals on access to Free Travel expected in coming weeks
- September 2022 - Epilepsy Ireland resubmit proposals on Free Travel in advance of Budget 23
- Jan 2022 - Epilepsy Ireland meet with Minister on access to Free Travel
- Jan 2022 - Epilepsy Ireland to meet with Minister regarding access to Free Travel next week.
- November 201 - Minister commits to meeting Epilepsy Ireland regarding access to Free Travel
- November 2021 - Taoiseach agrees that access to Free Travel for people with epilepsy is a "fair point"
- September 2021 - Key Epilepsy Ireland Advocacy campaign featured in DFI pre-budget submission
- August 2021 - Key Epilepsy Ireland Advocacy campaign featured in NAI pre-budget submission
- August 2021 - Epilepsy Ireland highlight personal impact of inadequate access to Free Travel with Ministers in advance of #Budget22.
- August 2021 - Epilepsy Ireland submit Budget Proposal on issue of access to Free Travel
- June 2021 - Access to Free Travel for people with epilepsy raised in the Seanad
- May 2021 - #EpilepsyWeek Day 2 - Irish public express overwhelming support for two epilepsy advocacy issues