Kevin Bravender wants additional supports to help him work.

Man with no use of left hand appeals for support to help him to work

A Cavan Town man with Cerebral Palsy is pleading with the government to provide further financial support to allow him to work.

Kevin Bravender (35) was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at a young age and has spent the last number of years trying to obtain a necessary certificate to qualify him for additional benefits as a person with disabilities.

“This primary medical certificate thing is a joke. That eligibility criteria needs to be changed. It says you have to be wholly or almost wholly without the use of limbs. I can’t use my left hand at all, I can’t even butter a slice of bread with it.”

A primary medical certificate is a document that confirms the holder is severely and permanently disabled.

Distressed by the situation, Kevin further explained: “Because I am disabled, I wasn’t given the chance to work part time in order to buy a vehicle. I don’t even want to drive; I want the vehicle for my assistant [personal assistant] to drive so I can be brought around.”

Holders of a primary medical certificate can apply for support under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme, which provides relief from VRT and VAT on an adapted car, as well as an exemption from motor tax and an annual fuel grant.

While the Department of Finance would not comment on Kevin’s case specifically, a spokesperson explained the criteria for the scheme.

Those who qualify need to be ‘wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs; be without both hands or without both arms; be without one or both legs; be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg; or have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs’.

Outlining the impact Cerebral Palsy has on his body, Kevin said: “It affects my left sided limbs. If I didn’t wear my reinforcement, which I can do in the summer, I can walk around a wee bit but I’d be limping. I can use my left shoulder and left elbow but I can’t use my left wrist. Any movement in that is involuntary.”

He believes he should qualify for the cert and subsequent supports. “Give me a sweet and get me to open it - I can’t do it,” he insisted.

Kevin has recently been granted a personal assistant, who is insured to drive him around. However, he hopes to begin working in the near future.

“I paid to get on the assistant’s insurance. I recently completed a GGI course in information, advice and advocacy and got a merit, which means I’m now qualified for the workforce. I’ll need a vehicle in order to gain meaningful employment.

“I’m snookered because I can’t afford a vehicle of my own.”

Prior to this, Kevin’s father had been driving him around.

In late 2021, the entire Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal resigned their positions to the Minister for Finance. Kevin contends this team has not yet been replaced, despite the then Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, signalling his intention to have the team replaced by April 2022.

“They still haven’t been replaced. It’s going on two years,” said Kevin.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance accepted that “recruitment of the legislatively required five members has proved challenging, requiring four Expression of Campaigns including one to replace a member who resigned to personal reasons, which took place in April 2023.” In a detailed response, they outlined other reasons for setbacks too and added:

“Five members have now been nominated by the Minister of Health and have successfully completed Garda vetting.”