Ahead of the DfI consultation event this Friday in Derry, People Before Profit Cllr Shaun Harkin said: “Department for Infrastructure officials are playing a dangerous divide and conquer game in their attempt to take away free public travel for people over the age of 60.
“To ram through Tory austerity, DfI officials are pitting different vulnerable groups against each other in a way that can be exploited by the far-right.
“This is a clear example of the state and political establishment attempting to cynically deflect anger away from themselves and encourage the targeting of minorities.
“The 12-week consultation on concessionary fares is a check-boxing exercise to justify removing and restricting free public travel for people over the age of 60.
“At the same time, the DfI holds out the possibility of extending free travel support to those qualifying with a disability, to asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking.
“The attempt to end free travel for the over-60s predates the cost of living crisis and financial pressures on Stormont.
“The demand to extend free travel support for those with a disability and other vulnerable people has been given lip service by consecutive DfI Ministers.
“Over and over again, Stormont has demonstrated it doesn’t care about the vulnerable – be it people with a disability, asylum seekers or victims of human trafficking. This consultation is a smokescreen to rip away free travel for the over-60s.
“We need to send a clear and united message to the DfI that free public travel for the over-60s should remain in place and it should also be extended to vulnerable groups. We should not allow them to divide us.
“Scotland and Wales have free public travel for the over-60s and it should remain in place here.
“Free public travel should be extended across society to tackle poverty, marginalisation and climate change.”