Fianna Fáil claims regarding the future of the Free Travel Scheme have been dismissed by Clare TD Pat Breen.
“This issue arises every year ahead of the Budget and it is only scare mongering to suggest that the Free Travel Scheme will not be protected by this Government,” the Fine Gael deputy said.
Mr Breen said it was Fianna Fáil who imposed a cap on funding for the scheme under their National Recovery Plan, 2011-2014. “In spite of the tight budgetary restrictions over the past few years, this Government has managed to protect the scheme and we are committed to its full retention,” he said.
The scheme provides free travel for all people living in the State aged 66 years or over, as well those who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments. There are currently 828,000 people who have direct eligibility and €77 million is expended on the Scheme annually.
“I am very much appreciate the importance of the Free Travel Scheme for our elderly and vulnerable persons and I have raised this with the Tanáiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton on a number of occasions and she had assured me the scheme will not be undermined in any way,” Deputy Breen said.