A Carrigaholt man is calling for an investigation into the issuing of primary medical certificates, following two unsuccessful attempts to obtain one for his 24-year-old daughter.
Patrick Gavin, who serves as the postmaster in Carrigaholt, has been campaigning for 10 years on legislation that has so far, denied his daughter Isabelle Sequin from being granted a primary medical certificate.
Primary Medical Certificates are issued by the HSE and certifies that a person is a severely disabled and permanently disabled person for the purposes of Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Regulations 1994.
Patrick said that his daughter, who receives 24-hour care, has been denied the cert due to the fact that she has all her limbs even though she does not have full use of them. “She can’t be left on her own. She’s with the Brothers of Charity in Kilrush, with her mother and with me. She can’t run, she can’t walk properly. When she is finished walking, she needs the wheelchair. She tends to fall over quite a bit as she has splayed feet”.
KOD Lyons solicitors in Dublin are now taking on Isabelle’s case. Associate Solicitor, Stephen Kirwan, who worked on two previous cases relating to PMCs, argued that cases like Isabelle’s occur because the previous set of regulations containing medical criteria governing the grant of PMCs are far too narrow and exclusionary in nature and that they are simply not fit for purpose. The criteria are currently under review but “interim measures that have been introduced are extremely problematic and arguably fail to fully vindicate the rights of those they were designed to benefit and are arbitrary and exclusionary in nature,” he stated.
In a previous attempt to overrule a similar case brought by Stephen through KOD Lyons, three doctors told the High Court that their hands are tied due to legislation. All primary medical certificates are signed off by a Senior Area Medical Officer in the Health Board, following an assessment through the Health Service Office (HSE). GPs and consultants cannot carry out the assessment.
Patrick is aggrieved at the decision not to grant Isabelle a primary medical certificate and is calling for a full investigation into the legislation and process. His campaigning has seen him on Prime Time on RTÉ in 2005 concerning an ASD unit in a Kilrush primary school and he has been visiting politicians’ offices for the past 10 years in a bid to get support for Isabelle.
He is currently seeking help from and has met with Clare TD, Joe Carey (FG) who stated that he has been in touch with the local health office, in order to make initial enquiries on Mr Gavin’s behalf. “The terms and condition of the scheme are very restrictive. The officials who process applications are bound by these rules”. He said further engagement will be required with Patrick to explore how the system can be changed to allow them receive necessary support.
Patrick wants these people to be held to account. “If I were to get one it would mean the VAT off the fuel I use to transport my daughter, costing €1,000 per year. I need to have the front seat made adjustable as it is more difficult for her to get in and out of the car. I can’t put her in the back as she can’t get out. It would mean €1,500 a year towards her, which isn’t much in today’s society. We would then have it for life”.
Right now, Patrick feels that KOD Lyons are Isabelle’s only hope. Despite having references from the former Minister of State for Disability Issues from 2016 to 2020 Finian McGrath (IND), her doctor, the Brothers of Charity and Senator John Dolan (IND) in the past, Isabelle’s case has continuously fallen through the cracks in the system. Patrick says that despite KOD Lyon’s confidence in the case, he is so used to setbacks.
“Everything you want or need in this life has to be fought for. I’m a pensioner looking after my daughter. I need to be looking out for ways and means that she will be looked after when I’m not there,” he concluded.