– Free Travel is a core social protection benefit and must be protected –
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea has said that Fianna Fáil will oppose any attempt to apply an annual charge on the Free Travel Pass.
Deputy O’Dea was responding to a report, commissioned in 2014, by the Department of Social Protection which proposed a €50 annual charge for the Free Travel Pass for older people and people with disabilities.
“Since its introduction by Fianna Fáil in the late 1960s, the Free Travel Pass has ensured that older citizens and people with disabilities remained able to travel around their community, and also around Ireland.
“This is a core social protection benefit for many people and Fianna Fáil will vigorously oppose any attempt by the Government to introduce a charge on the scheme.
“This pass enables those who rely on it to retain their independence, participate in their communities and it helps to prevent loneliness and isolation.
“Furthermore, any charge will only serve erode the small increase that people will see in their social welfare payments, which are due to come into effect in March.
“Fianna Fáil fought hard to secure those increases and we will not stand by and let them be decimated by charges on essential benefits.
“Minister Varadkar must come before the Dáil and categorically rule out the introduction of such a charge, and ease the worry that many older people will be feeling upon hearing of this proposal.”