I would like to commend Mark H Durkan MLA for his attack on the suggested withdrawal of bus passes for the elderly, as reported in this week’s Sunday Journal.
Eamonn McCann is also to be commended for highlighting in his Tuesday column Sammy Wilson’s disgraceful dismissive response to Colum Eastwood’s questions on unemployment and poverty in Northern Ireland. This undoubtedly makes a strong case for buying the three editions of the Journal!
To get back to Mark Durkan. Withdrawing bus passes, or means testing bus passes, makes no sense. Many buses run half empty most of the day anyway. And rich people don’t use buses. Without a pass, many old people would stay at home and suffer the cold, perhaps with fatal consequences.
Bus passes give senior citizens the chance to get out and socialise. They can avail of recreational and educational facilities. Shops would suffer if older people stayed at home. The passes give the elderly an opportunity to travel which they perhaps did not have while working and contributing financially to social services.
Why should older people go round with a begging bowl for what should be an entitlement? What next? The end of free prescriptions? Reduced medical services? Euthanasia, if costs get too high? (Don’t laugh.)
With regard to the other services mentioned by Colum Eastwood, it is high time that some other MLAs took a stand against the cuts instead of giving a spineless endorsement to attacks on social provision and the right to work.
As for Sammy, who produced the great Stormont Budget, he should try to get a grant to attend a circus school, where he might improve his pathetic act.
(Name and address supplied)