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Anger at NIO Minister's response to All Ireland concessionary travel

27 April, 2004

Sinn Fein disability spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA Geraldine Dougan has expressed anger at the response of British NIO direct rule Minister John Spellar to the issue of All Ireland concessionary travel for people with disabilities.

Ms Dougan said:

"Sinn Féin are not alone in calling for concessionary travel arrangements to be made available throughout the island of Ireland.

"At present Dublin funds travel concessions for people living in the south holding a Travel Pass anywhere throughout the island, including the Six Counties. They also meet the costs of people from the north holding senior, blind and war disabled SmartPasses travelling in the south.

"The introduction of concessionary travel for certain groups of people with disability in April is welcome however it has created a loophole in that these people cannot access reduced travel across the island.

"The arrogant response of John Spellar to the issue of expanding travel opportunities for people with disabilities throughout the island of Ireland is disgraceful. Yet again Mr Spellar has shown that he is a man of limited ability and vision when it comes to developing services within the All Ireland context that could potentially make a huge contribution to the lives of disabled people.

"I would remind Mr Spellar that the equality agenda demands that all people have equal opportunities to realise their potential. This does not mean that everyone gets equal resources; it means that in some cases that extra, additional resources are required to create a level playing field." ENDS

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