The charity Age Action told independent MEP, Nessa Childers, that it is increasingly concerned that next on the Government’s hit-list is the Free Travel Scheme, which entitles those over the age of 66 to use public transport free-of-charge.
Ms Childers responded: ‘The Free Travel Scheme must remain – and it must remain in its current form, untouched entirely. Swapping the current system to 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 – in recent years pensioners have been told to take hit after hit; to shoulder austerity at any cost, and now they have just had enough.
First introduced in 1967, everyone aged 66 and over living permanently in the State is entitled to the Free Travel Scheme.
‘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,’ Ms Childers concluded.