Hundreds attend free travel protest in Belfast


By VIEWdigital editor Brian Pelan

Hundreds of people attended a protest in Belfast over plans to raise the minimum age for free public transport.

The protest, which was held at the front of Belfast City Hall on Saturday (August 19), heard from a number of speakers who are opposed to any plans to place restrictions on the over-60s access to the free travel SmartPass.

Taryn Trainer from the trade union Unite, who looks after retired members as part of her role, said: “It’s vital that we stand together against this threat. We want to send a powerful signal out to the NI Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris. He has no democratic mandate for this most brutal attack on our most vulnerable. Hands off our pensioners’ free travel and rail transport.”

Emer Raffery (above) from Ecojustice Ireland, said: “I am sickened by the proposal to cut free travel for the over-60s. There is really no need for this cut. I am also calling on all young people to support this protest. They need to stand up for their grannies and grandads.”

Changes being considered by the Department of Infrastructure include raising the age of eligibility for concessionary fares to either 65 or state pension age.

The consultation on changes to the Concessionary Fares Scheme ends on Thursday, August 24.