Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection and Social Equality, Willie O’Dea TD, says he is appalled at reports that elderly people are being forced to take day-long train journeys on a weekly basis because they cannot afford to heat their homes during the day.
Both Active Retirement and Age Action Ireland have confirmed that elderly people have been reduced to using their free travel passes to take day-long train journeys so they can afford to pay their heating and electricity bills at the end of the month.
Deputy O’Dea commented: “These appalling revelations confirm my worst fears about how Budget 2014 disproportionally targeted elderly people.
“We have heard the Government spin about how the budget was softer than expected and didn’t contain as much pain as in previous years. Try telling that to the pensioners being forced to travel all over the country on train journeys every week because they cannot afford to heat their homes.
“The last two budgets have had a devastating effect on our elderly. The slashing of the Fuel Allowance from 32 weeks to 26 years as well as the introduction of the Carbon Tax has presented many older people with a stark choice, the choice between eating and heating.
“Since taking office this government has allowed an increase of 32% in gas prices while Ireland has the second highest electricity prices in the EU. In the programme for government they committed to ending fuel poverty instead they have increased it immeasurably.
“2,000 elderly people on the island of Ireland die each year because of illnesses related to the cold. It is not good enough to ignore our elderly people like this.
“It is not too late for Minister Burton to see past her own spin and realise how much elderly people are suffering and reverse the cut to the fuel allowance.”