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Lack of parking costs driver his disability claim

WELFARE officers stopped disability payments to a wheelchair-bound claimant who couldn't sign on because he wasn't able to find a parking space.

Spina bifida sufferer Frank Larkin (41) found cars illegally parked outside his local post office so, when he couldn't find a space, he missed a deadline to sign on for his benefits.

A week later, he got a warning letter from the Department of Social Protection telling him his €188-per-week benefit was being stopped.

He has since been paid for the following week, when he did manage to sign on, but now payments have stopped indefinitely.

"It's typical of society's attitudes to disabled people," said Mr Larkin, from Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

"I couldn't get parked outside the post office in my home town because cars were parked there illegally. I drove around and around and couldn't get parked anywhere.

"And then the department stop payments for that week I missed and sent me a letter asking me to explain myself."

Mr Larkin said he wasn't looking for special treatment – just some fair play.

"They have all my phone numbers, and someone could have picked up the phone and asked me why I hadn't signed on," he said.

"But, instead, this happens. I did manage to get in the following week to sign on and I got my allowance that week without any problem.

"However, this was followed by a letter telling me my money has been stopped altogether."

He claimed the department's decision was discriminatory against disabled people.

"I could get this paid into my account. That would probably be easier, but I prefer to go in person and collect my money," Mr Larkin said.

"The problem is the selfish attitude of some motorists who park illegally in disabled spaces.

"There are three spaces for the disabled beside the post office and, nine times out of 10, they are taken by people who are illegally parked."

He added: "This whole fiasco is down to selfish motorists and some department mandarin not knowing what they are doing."