SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has expressed support for the “Hands Off of Our Bus Pass’” campaign in response to news that funding for the concessionary fares scheme could be under threat.
Mr Ramsey was speaking after Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy revealed free travel for over-60s on the North’s public transport scheme was under threat.
According Mr Kennedy, funding of £9 million for the scheme is being discussed at Stormont.
Mr Ramsey said he was fully behind the Age Sector Platform campaign, and revealed he had been contacted by a number of people in Derry who were “angry and outraged” at the thought such a vital resource could be taken away.
“To think this hugely important scheme could be stripped away from the most vulnerable people in our society is outrageous and people are rightly angry about this,” said Mr Ramsey.
“The scheme is vital to so many of our older people and was pursued by the SDLP for many years. I have no doubt that had it not been for the work of party colleagues in the past this scheme would never have got off the ground.
“I am calling on all elected representatives to make it known to the DRD Minister that attacking senior citizens by withdrawing their travel concessions would be an extremely unpopular road to travel and certainly one that would be remembered at the next election.”
Mr Ramsey concluded: “Senior citizens must be treated as equals in every respect and the right to travel has been for many years a basic right.”
Free travel on buses and trains was introduced here in 2008.
It is understood budget allocations could not be agreed during Departmental spending discussions.
First Minister Peter Robinson has warned unspecified projects faced being suspended or abandoned unless decisions were finalised in the coming days.