02/09/2015

FF Hits Out At Govt Over Plans To Restrict Free Travel Scheme

A Fianna Fáil Senator has expressed anger that the Government is considering restricting the Free Travel Scheme for Dublin pensioners.

Mary White has said that Dublin pensioners will resist any attempt to cut the Free Travel Scheme.

Dublin Rathdown election candidate Mary White said many older people were annoyed and worried when they opened the newspaper to find that the Free Travel Scheme was up for cuts.

She said: "While it comes as some relief that Minister Joan Burton has since backtracked on the reports, people are concerned about whether or not they can trust these assurances," the south Dublin Senator said.

"It has become extremely difficult to trust the Government’s promises when it comes to supports for older people. We have seen a sustained attack on services for older people over the past four years, which has resulted in pensioners suffering average annual cuts totalling €1,200. The fuel allowance has been cut, free electricity and gas units have been reduced, the telephone allowance has been scrapped, prescription drug charges have been increased 5 fold, DIRT tax and motor tax have increased, the levy on private pension finds has hit retirement savings and there has been a dramatic cull of medical cards for the over-70s. That's on top of new property taxes and water charges.

"The final insult to older people is any suggestions of cuts to the Free Travel Scheme. The Government established a review of the scheme last year, which raised alarm bells with me at the time. There is no doubt in my mind that the media reports of cuts to the scheme earlier this week were a kite-flying exercise by government to test the ground ahead of the budget. It is very clear in my mind that these cuts were being actively considered."

(CD/LM)

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