By Noreen Bowden | January 15, 2008
Extending free public transport to elderly emigrant visitors to Ireland is not currently possible, according to Social and Family Affairs Minister Martin Cullen. The Irish Independent has reported that the Minister said that despite a Government pledge to work toward free travel for emigrant pensioners, the minister said:
“Legal advice indicates that it would not be possible to extend entitlement to free travel to Irish-born people living abroad, as to do so would be contrary to European legislation, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of nationality”.
Labour Party chief whip Emmet Stagg, however, says the Government is actually opposing a complaint made to the European committee on Social Rights, investigating whether the current denial of free travel breaches the EU’s social charter. “The Government have fought against that tooth and nail to prevent them having to grant free travel. This flies in the face of their statements in the Dail, where they are saying the EU won’t allow them to do this”.