Opposition parties have accused the Government of trying to withdraw rights from gay couples, under an amendment to social welfare legislation going through the Dáil.

The amendment restricts the benefits of schemes such as the Free Travel Scheme to spouses of qualified people, effectively withdrawing them from partners in gay relationships.

Labour's Liz McManus said the amendment would take away rights which gay people had won.

John Gormley of the Greens accused the Government of 'cynicism of the highest order' in overturning the right of gay people to have free travel.