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MEP rails against scrapping travel pass 15.05.14

by Jessie Magee

A strong plea was made this week for the retention of the Free Travel Scheme for pensioners amid fears that it could next on the Government’s hit list.
Age Action Ireland has said it is increasingly concerned that the scheme, which entitles those over the age of 66 to use public transport free-of-charge, could be abolished altogether in Budget 2015, or else changed to a means-tested system.
Responding to these concerns, Independent MEP Nessa Childers urged the Government to leave the Free Travel Scheme in its current form and “entirely untouched”.
“Older people have had enough, and to swap the current system for a means-tested one is unacceptable. Using partial refunds or tax credits in lieu is also unacceptable, as is restricting the permissible hours of travel,” she said.
Childers said she is meeting “a real sense of fear and anxiety” among pensioners on the doorsteps after telephone and fuel allowances, funeral grants and medical cards were all slashed in the last budget.
“In Ireland, we pride ourselves on community, and yet age-related isolation is a significant issue. Let’s not contribute to that problem further by removing the very scheme which allows an older person to retain so much of their independence,” added Childers.
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