Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (262)

Martin Ferris


403 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when it is proposed to introduce the promised all-Ireland free travel scheme for pensioners. [25440/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Family)

Under the existing free travel scheme, pass holders who reside in the Republic of Ireland can travel free within the South. Similarly, people who live in Northern Ireland and who hold a concessionary travel pass can travel free within the North. Under the special cross-Border arrangements in place since 1995, both southern and northern pass holders can undertake cross-Border journeys free of charge.

The introduction of free travel on an all-Ireland basis would enable southern pass holders to make free onward journeys within the North. Similarly, Northern Ireland pass holders would be able to make internal journeys within the South free of charge.

There are a number of issues to be resolved to implement an enhanced all-Ireland free travel system on these lines. These issues will require co-operation between my Department and the department for regional development in Northern Ireland as well as the relevant northern and southern transport operator companies.

My predecessor met with the Minister of State at the department for regional development in Northern Ireland last month to explore the potential for co-operation between the two Departments with regard to the proposal. Contacts are continuing between officials of the two Departments.