Seanad debates

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Commencement Matters

Free Travel Scheme Eligibility

10:30 am

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

This is an innovative and good idea. Of course I would be happy to engage with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Department of Education and Skills on any idea like this. Joined-up thinking is important in government. There are, of course, other good ideas also. Free travel for children is a good idea. When I was Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I was involved in providing free days for children on the Luas, in addition to making a decision to link up the Luas lines. In certain other jurisdictions, there is free transport for children. I believe London Underground, for example, provides free transport to all children under 16.

As with any good idea, one must consider the cost. There are two sets of costs. One is the cost in terms of money. I do not have much money at present. Every day, there seems to be somebody demanding €100 million in additional spending in my Department but they do not seem to want to give me the money. Aside from the monetary cost, there is also an opportunity cost. I refer to all the other things one could do with the money, such as reversing some of the cuts made to the disability and carer's allowances and the blind person's pension. This is the battle I am currently trying to fight. As the Senator can imagine, there are many demands. Given the new political scenario we are in, I expect Fianna Fáil will produce its budgetary proposals in the next couple of days. Perhaps the first step would be to ensure the Senator's proposal is included as one of the party's priorities. We can take it from there.


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