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
Responding to these concerns, Independent MEP Nessa
Childers urged the Government to leave the Free
Travel Scheme in its current form and “entirely
“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,”