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Minister Heather Humphreys officially announces expansion of Free Travel scheme on #EpilepsyDay!

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Epilepsy Ireland CEO Peter Murphy, Minister Heather Humphreys and EI Advocacy & Communications Manager, Paddy McGeoghegan

To mark International Epilepsy Day, Minister for Social Protection, we were pleased to recently meet with Minister Heather Humphreys to officially announce the upcoming expansion of the Free Travel scheme.

As many of our members, supporters and volunteers will know, this has been a longstanding campaign for Epilepsy Ireland and we were delighted that Minister Humphreys secured a commitment to expanding the scheme in last year’s budget. The amendments to the scheme will allow those who are medically unfit to drive for at least a year or those who will never be able to drive due to a long-term health condition or disability to apply to avail of Free Travel.

At our meeting, in which Epilepsy Ireland were represented by our CEO Peter Murphy and our Advocacy & Communications Manager, Paddy McGeoghegan, we heard how work is well underway to implement the necessary departmental changes in order to allow the new expanded scheme to be in place for July. In a new development, the Minister has also advised how the Department will be inviting applications for the expanded scheme from May.

While our campaign always focused on the impact driving restrictions has on people with epilepsy and how the changes to the scheme will benefit people with epilepsy, it was also heartening to hear how the Department estimates that up to 32,000 people in total – including people living with epilepsy – who are living with a long term health condition or disability could be set to benefit from the expansion of the scheme.

Commenting on the official launch of the expanded scheme, Minister Humphreys said:

I’m very pleased to announce this significant expansion of the Free Travel Scheme.

From July, the Free Travel scheme will be available to people who have never been able to drive due to a medical condition. I am also making the scheme available to people who have a license but are medically certified as not fit to drive for 12 months or longer.

This measure is expected to benefit some 32,000 people this year and will give them access to free travel on all public transport provided by the State. It will benefit people with a range of disabilities including, for example those with epilepsy, and, as such, face additional transport costs, especially when commuting to work.

My Department is working on the required system changes to deliver this extension of Free Travel from July, while application forms will be available from May for those who wish to apply.

Our CEO Peter Murphy also commented:

The measure secured by Minister Humphreys as part of Budget 24 is something that Epilepsy Ireland have sought for many years, and we are delighted that improved access to the Free Travel scheme is set to be introduced in July. It is fitting that the official announcement of the changes comes on International Epilepsy Day, as the measures being introduced will be of huge benefit to people with epilepsy living across Ireland. We would like to thank Minister Humphreys for her commitment to addressing this issue, and for helping to ease some of the impact that being unable to drive due to a long-term medical condition can have on a person’s life.

As more details about the new scheme and the process involved in applying become available, we will share this on our website and social media channels. In the meantime, you can learn more about the history of this campaign by visiting the ‘Advocacy’ section of our website.

Remember to learn about those key words of Time, Safe, Stay today on #EpilepsyDay as well – find out more by visiting the ‘International Epilepsy Day 2024’ section of our website.