Moves are being considered to enable the implementation of an All-Ireland Free Travel scheme for pensioners and other groups. The BBC quotes Irish Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mary Coughlan, “The use of this type of smart card [to be introduced next year] may hold the key to resolving many of the administrative difficulties in operating the proposed All-Ireland Free Travel scheme on both sides of the border”According to Minister Coughlan, “Issuing these new smart cards to pensioners and other eligible social welfare client groups is scheduled to commence within the next year”.
As the BBC report says “Pass holders in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic are currently entitled to free cross-border journeys, but they are not entitled to free travel within the other jurisdiction.
Under the plan being considered, senior citizens in Northern Ireland with a Senior Smart Pass would be able to travel for free within the Irish Republic, and vice versa.”
And about time, too.
Although I did note that despite the confirmation that the plan was discussed at a Ministerial meeting in Belfast last Monday, NIO Minister John Spellar does not appear to have made any comment yet.