Joe Behan - Independent Councillor - Wicklow County Council

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Government Attack Free Travel

Archive Statements > 2017 - January-March

Free Travel under Attack by Government
18th January 2017

Free Travel has been targeted by an inter-departmental task force in a recent review.

The review is deeply worrying because it concluded that the scheme was costing too much and it proposed a number of measures including charging people for the service in the future, forcing people to apply every year, abolishing passes completely for disabled people, restricting companion passes, introducing a means test and delaying the passes for elderly people by an additional year.

These proposals would be an outrage and should be opposed by anyone who respects the rights of older citizens and people with disabilities to travel around this country without undue hardship.

The review was begun by Labour and Fine Gael in 2014 but the result was never published until the Irish Times newspaper got the information under Freedom of Information legislation and published it on Monday last. The review was conducted by the Departments of Social Protection and Transport but the recommendations were buried for another day.

The present Minster for Social and Community Affairs has said the Government will not be acting on the review but I am very suspicious about this because he was Minister for Transport when the review was begun and he obviously agreed with conducting the review in the first place. It is also deeply worrying that the Government has provided no increase in funding for the scheme in 2017 despite the projected rise in the elderly population in this and future years.

I believe the Government would wish to limit the free travel scheme in the future as this review recommends and it is essential that politicians nationally and locally work together to protect the free travel scheme from the threat it faces from the Government of this country.

Cllr. Joe Behan

Serving the people of County Wicklow since 1985 |

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