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Older people suffering from rural transport failure

Published 07/12/2016

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Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people, told an Oireachtas committee this morning that the lack of an effective rural transport system was isolating older people and preventing them from accessing essential services.

The organisation’s meeting with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional and Rural Affairs in Dublin today was part of a series held by the committee to examine issues affecting rural communities. 

Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications, said: “An effective rural public transport system is essential for older people to access work, education, leisure, medical and social services.

“Already, in many parts of Ireland, there are no direct public transport links to hospitals serving rural areas. Older people are increasingly concerned by media reports suggesting real threats to Iarnród Éireann routes and the future of the Bus Éireann Expressway service.

“As more than one older person has said to us, the travel pass isn’t worth very much if there are no buses or trains on which to use it.”

Hands off our Travel Pass
Age Action members led a campaign to protect the Travel Pass in 2014

National Positive Ageing Strategy

Mr Moran urged the committee to investigate whether the commitments made in 2013 in the National Positive Ageing Strategy to provide more age-friendly transport have been met.

Mr Moran continued: “The lack of public transport in many rural areas means many older people need to keep driving and they’re suffering from punishing, and ageist, increases in car insurance premiums.

“Research carried out by the CSO and by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice confirms that older people in rural Ireland have lower incomes and higher expenses than those living in our towns and cities.

“A lot of this is driven by the need to keep and maintain a car because the public transport system is simply not reliable.

“The services on which older people in rural communities rely – the post office, the bus, the local GP, the garda station all seem to be under threat.

“The committee’s investigation into how we can best support rural Ireland is a very welcome initiative and we hope the needs of older people will be fully reflected in the final report.”

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A Fair Society for All? Listening to the Voices of Older People

Often, inequalities experienced by older people reflect an accumulated disadvantage which can be as a result of factors such as socio-economic status, health, gender, location. How existing inequalities impact on us as we age is something we in Age Action explored through a panel discussion 10 September – A Fair Society For All? Listening to the Voice of Older People – in Croke Park, on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting 2019.

An audience of over 160 people, including members of Age Action and people working in the ageing sector, joined the conversatoin which included a panel disucssion moderated by the CEO Paddy Connolly. The discussion centred on a discussion paper, Equality for All - Older People for Equality, published by Age Action in advance.The  panel set the scene with inputs from Michael Taft, Economist and political economy columnist, Colette Bennett, Policy Analyst Social Justice Ireland, Deirdre Garvey, CEO The Wheel, Ailbhe Smith, Co-Director of Together for Yes.