Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal North East Charlie McConalogue has said it is unacceptable for Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to refuse to permit use of free travel passes on the Buncrana to Derry Bus Route, previously operated by Lough Swilly.
The Donegal TD was reacting to news that McGonagle coaches of Buncrana were told by the Department of Social Protection that they would be given no subsidy in order to accept travel passes.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “It is a ridiculous decision by the Department not to offer a subsidy to the new Buncrana-Derry route. We now have a number of qualifying pensioners with virtually worthless travel passes because of the Government’s refusal to pay the companies who have taken over the routes from Lough Swilly.
“Pensioners depend on these local routes and the Buncrana to Derry route is of particular importance locally. With many of our pensioners having worked in Britain for a number of years and returning home in later life, the majority of their pensions are paid into banks in Derry.
“The fact that the subsidy has not been offered to McGonagle’s has increased fears about the proposed review of the free travel pass. The review has created increased anxiety among older people in Donegal, who depend on it to go about their daily lives. It is an essential support which helps them live independently and any attempts to change or tamper with the travel pass will not be tolerated”.
“The Minister must recognise what the loss of the free travel passes means to elderly passengers in Inishowen and an allowance has to be made”.