All-Ireland Proposals All Can Welcome?

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.

  • George

    Charles Haughey will be proud to see his idea become an all-island affair.

  • PS

    Glad to see this, an important issue for people living in border areas. Previously we had the ludicrous situation where an elderly person living in South Armagh wishing to travel to Dublin would have been allowed free transport from Newry but not Dundalk despite the fact that Dundalk may be more convenient and is also closer to Dublin.

  • Davros

    It’s an excellent idea and one that hopefully will be extended right across the EU.

  • smcgiff

    ‘It’s an excellent idea and one that hopefully will be extended right across the EU.’

    Makes sense Davros.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Spellar doesn’t sound too keen though he said he will look into it. Sounds like it will be shelved.

  • peteb

    The thing is Pat, Spellar hasn’t commented at all and the quotes from Mary Coughlan are all about what may happen rather than what will happen.

    Somehow I think Bertie’s imminent reshuffle may have a lot to do with this sudden and uncharacteristically high profile statement.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Yeah, I was wondering what Pat was on about there. But sure, no-one listens to Spellar anyway.

    I mean, 10 years ago, he was against water privatisation, FFS.

  • aquifer

    Great, too many people on this island have not crossed the border at all.

    Now how about looking at the cost of posting letters and making phone calls within our ‘National Territory’

    ROI state monopoly profit trumps national aspirations every time?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    The BBC News at 6.30pm on Monday reported the Coughlan remarks on the meeting with Spellar it further stated that while Spellar recognised the benefits of such a plan Translink operated in a very competitive market and as such that would have to be taken into account.

  • Keith M

    Personally I don’t agree with “free” travel being handed out willy nilly to all OAPs. The system is being abused in this country and spreading it to Northern Ireland is only asking for trouble. My recommendation would be to means test it, do away with the “companionnpass” which is being abused. Don’t forget the taxpayers ends up funding the railway and bus companies for this, so I think we are entitled to value for money.

    I do agree with Davos that a means pan-EU system would be welcome, once it was means tested.

  • smcgiff

    Not saying your wrong in theory, but your suggestion about touching the free pass would be as popular as VAT on children’s shoes. Remember that one!

  • slackjaw

    Don’t worry Keith M: after they use it for the first time they might not go back.

    I use Dublin commuter trains and Dublin Bus regularly, and the lack of consideration by younger people towards senior citizens is often breathtaking.

    Assuming the senior citizen actually manages to board the vehicle after the Darwinian scrum that takes place at most bus stops and train stations in greater Dublin, getting offered a seat is the exception and not the rule. Most people sit stony-faced and paralysed, gaze fixed anywhere apart from the direction of the senior citizen.

    I am in favour of the pan-EU scheme Davros proposes, and would hope that it comes with some form of passenger rights for senior citizens – at least for when they travel to the Republic of Ireland.

  • smcgiff


    I think your comments are unfair. I’ve not used public transport in sometime, but when I did it was during my summers working in London. From what I could see I was regularly (I’m a saint really) that would get up and let pregnant women and the elderly sit down.

    Admittedly, this experience is over ten years ago now. Have things changed since?

    So, I’m not sure where the ROI only jibe is coming from?

  • smcgiff

    Translated into English as,

    ‘From what I could see, I was regularly (I’m a saint really) the only person that would…’

  • slackjaw

    Typekey appears to be going a bit wonky, so apologies if this appears a couple of times…


    As Roy Walker might say, I say what I see. I see it most days of the week. If things were as you say they were 10 years ago, then they have changed. I didn’t live in Dublin then.

    The ‘ROI jibe’ is based on my experience of public transport in Great Britain, Spain, France and Italy. Seats are readily offered to senior citizens. Orderly queues are formed. Most of my compatriots, at least those who travel to and within the capital, now appear incapable of doing this to an acceptable extent. It gives me no pleasure in saying so.

  • slackjaw


    Apologies – I misread your previous comment. I am sure things have not changed on the London Underground.

  • maca

    slackjaw … my experiences are different I have to say. I also “see what I see”. Young people are ignorant everywhere, not just in Ireland.

  • smcgiff


    I also had occasion to use the buses. 🙂

    I think maca sums it up. Youths (God, I’m getting old!!!!) everywhere are too busy worrying about their complexions!

  • smcgiff

    ‘Orderly queues are formed.’

    This reminds me of a comment made about the British. Something along the lines of they’re the only nation that know how to queue! 🙂

  • slackjaw

    Goddam typekey is giving me waking nightmares.

    Anyway, once more, with feeling. If you end up reading a couple of different versions of the below, I do apologise.


    Do you agree with what I said about Dublin public transport or not? What part of that do you think was unfair? Because that’s the part that concerns me most.

    Or are you more concerned about me implying that there are some things that we Irish do not do as well as other EU countries?

    I have not implied at any point that Ireland is the only EU country where senior citizens are shabbily treated on public transport, nor did I even say that it was the worst in this regard. I merely singled out Ireland for particular attention because
    1. I’m Irish
    2. The thread is about pensioners using Irish public transport
    3. I regularly use Irish public transport.


    ‘Young people are ignorant everywhere, not just in Ireland.’

    Agreed, but when I mentioned ‘younger people’ in my first post, I was referring to non-senior citizens. The problem is not confined to pesky teenagers and twentysomethings.


    ‘This reminds me of a comment made about the British. Something along the lines of they’re the only nation that know how to queue! :)’

    Perhaps. But if we took our cue (har har)from the British and started forming orderly queues, it wouldn’t mean that the British Empire was coming back, would it?

  • smcgiff

    ‘it wouldn’t mean that the British Empire was coming back, would it?’

    Granted, it would take more than that i.e. Atlantis proportion disasters to happen to the USA, Russia, China, but I get your point.

    ‘Do you agree with what I said about Dublin public transport or not?’

    Haven’t been to the non-real capital in ages or used public transport for that matter. Will have to take your word for it, but is it really worse than other cities?

  • George

    In Germany the pensioners just come up to you and flash their OAP card if you are sitting on a designated seat and you just have to get up.

    Stuff this British politeness lark, Ireland should just make it the law.

  • Davros

    What happens if you don’t get up George ?

  • smcgiff

    ‘flash their OAP’ Oh, my – that sounds potentially nasty.