Free travel pass is 'safe' says Government

Tuesday 08 July 2014 23.40
The free travel pass has been protected in recent budgets
The free travel pass has been protected in recent budgets

The Government has said that the free travel pass is safe, has been protected in recent budgets, and will continue to be protected.

Fianna Fáil has tabled a Private Members' motion calling for a suspension of the current review of the scheme.

In response the Government Information Service issued a statement saying a review of the scheme was done in the context of a freeze on funding imposed by the previous government at a time when numbers eligible for the scheme continued to rise.

"This review is about ensuring the viability and sustainability of the free travel scheme into the future, not just this year or next year", the statement said.

The motion has been tabled by Fianna Fáil's spokesperson on Social Protection Willie O'Dea.

He said that changes to the conditions of the travel pass for people over 65 should be avoided as it allows older people to "go about their everyday business and live independently".

He cited research by Age Action that found over 70% of travel pass holders use it to get to medical appointments, to visit family and friends and to do their shopping.

Mr O'Dea said: "Without it many fear they would become more isolated from their community and network of friends and family."

In response Fine Gael accused Fianna Fáil of deliberately trying to scare older people.

Fine Gael's Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said the motion on the free travel pass is completely inaccurate

She said despite the fact that a number of senior government ministers have stated that there is no threat to the pass, "Fianna Fáil seems determined to whip up fear over this issue." 

She called on Fianna Fáil to withdraw the motion, which she said was "nothing more than scaremongering".

Keywords: travel pass