Alliance Assembly member Kieran McCarthy has called on the Minister for Regional Development to immediately bring forward legislation in order to allow public transport users in Northern Ireland aged over 60 to take advantage of travel concessions.
Mr McCarthy was speaking after the Department of Transport announced today that men in England and Wales will be eligible for travel concessions at the same age (60) as women from April 1. (Currently, men in England and Wales have to wait until they are 65.)
In October 2001, the Assembly launched a scheme that would allow Northern Ireland’s pensioners to enjoy free public transport. However, it was limited to people aged over 65, although women could be of pensionable age from 60.
Mr McCarthy said: “While that was an excellent initiative, we now have a situation whereby all senior citizens in England and Wales will be able to take advantage of travel concessions at the age of 60.
“When the local scheme was launched, the then Minister stated that ‘free transport should be available to everyone of pensionable age, and that includes women between the age of 60 and 65’. However, everyone in Northern Ireland still has to wait until they are 65.
“If that is indeed the case, then the current Minister must bring forward legislation that ensures there is no discrimination against the elderly in Northern Ireland. The current situation is unnecessarily unfair to older people here, and should be brought into line with England and Wales immediately.”