A body called the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal has handed in its resignation to the Minister for Finance.

The board plays a key role in a scheme to provide relief for VRT and VAT on vehicles for people with disabilities.

The issue revolves around the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme, which provides tax reliefs on the purchase of specially constructed or adapted vehicles for someone with a disability.

Those who qualify primarily get relief on VRT and repayment of VAT when buying and adapting a vehicle.

To qualify, applicants need to get a Primary Medical Certificate.

To do this, they must be permanently disabled, and then satisfy at least one of a list of medical conditions, including being without some or all of their limbs, or being wholly without the use of limbs.

A HSE Officer assesses applicants for a cert, and if they are unsuccessful applicants can appeal to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal.

This is the group which has resigned.

It is an independent body operating out of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin.

However, for some time it has been expressing concern over what it sees as criteria that are too stringent to get a Primary Medical Cert.

It is understood that, on average, less than 5% of appeals for certs are successful.

In June 2020, the families of two children with disabilities won a Supreme Court appeal challenging a refusal by the board to allow them avail of the scheme.

At that time, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the court decision raised "complex issues", and the scheme was temporarily suspended.

The minister then brought forward an amendment to the Finance Bill that allowed assessments to start again in January 2021.

He said at that time that this was just an interim solution, and promised a review.

It is understood members of the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal believed the Supreme Court ruling confirmed the issues they saw with the scheme.

Board members met with the minister last March, but said they were unhappy with subsequent progress and felt they could not stand over a scheme that, in their view, excluded a lot of people.

Chairperson Dr Cara McDonagh wrote to the minister last October to tender her resignation.

The whole board - five members in total - tendered their resignations then. These resignations have only now come to light.

It is believed they would rather the criteria focus less on people's medical conditions and more on how they function in society.

As of the end of November, it is understood there were 364 cases awaiting an appeal date, with 20 more last month.

The Irish Wheelchair Association, which also believes the qualifying criteria for certs are very stringent, said its members have reported considerable delays in the processing of appeals.

It also pointed out that many people with high levels of disability look to avail of the appeals process annually.

Mr Donohoe confirmed the members of the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal had tendered their resignations and he said work is ongoing to appoint a new board.

He added that in the interim, cert assessments by the HSE are continuing.

In a statement to RTÉ News, the Department of Finance acknowledged that all five board members cited difficulties in assessing appeals under the criteria.

It added that a working group - led by the Department of Children, Equality, and Disability - will review the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme.