Little point in free travel pass if no transport available, committee hears

TDs and Senators asked to consider if there is a need for LGBTQI nursing homes

Age Action  says rural public transport is a major issue for everyone in rural areas, but especially for elderly people.  Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Age Action says rural public transport is a major issue for everyone in rural areas, but especially for elderly people. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

 

There is little point in the free travel pass for pensioners in rural communities if there is no bus or rail services, TDs and Senators have been told.

The issue of how to sustain viable rural communities is being considered by the Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Addressing the committee, Justin Moran of Age Action Ireland said rural public transport was a major issue for everyone in rural areas, but especially for elderly people.

He instanced residents of Blessington in Co Wicklow who had no bus or rail service linking them with their local hospital in Naas, Co Kildare. A taxi for a hospital appointment would cost them €30 each way, he said.

Mr Moran also instanced the closure of rural post offices, pointing out that the closure of Cleggan post office in rural Connemara had left pensioners with a journey of several kilometres to Claddaghduff post office, with no public transport available.

He told the politicians rural transport was a major issue contributing to the cost of living in the countryside as people tended to have to have a car and this was a cost not always suffered by urban counterparts.

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He said the effectiveness of the State’s rural transport programme must be questioned.

LGBTQI nursing homes

The politicians were also asked to consider whether there is a need for “sensitive and respectful” nursing homes for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people.

Mr Moran agreed with Senator Finatan Warfield that consideration should be given to “sheltered housing options” for the elderly where “different cultures may be accommodated”.

Mr Warfield told the committee that research on the first post-equality ageing LGBTQI community has shown some 42 per cent of respondents had expressed concern at a poor quality of service, because of being LGBTQI.

The research on ageing, carried out by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network found 43 per cent of those surveyed lived alone while 53 per cent had expressed concern about living alone.

He said there may be a need for LGBTQI nursing homes which were “sensitive and respectful” to recognising the particular needs and difficulties of the community.

Éamon Ó Cuív told the committee there was “a danger of painting all the problems of old age as problems of problems of old age in rural areas”.

He said he would rather get old in a rural community. But he warned rural families were being split up by the difficulty in getting planning permission to live beside parents, a factor which was creating rural isolation.

The lack of young people meant that places like Achill Island in Co Mayo was finding it difficult to sustain a football team, with the result that sport as a social outlet for the whole community was impaired.