Dáil Éireann - Volume 540 - 04 July, 2001
Written Answers. - Free Schemes.
Mr. Stagg Mr. Stagg
59. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs if he has held discussions with any private service providers in relation to the extension of the free schemes to cover operations (details supplied). [20113/01]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The free scheme benefits administered by my Department are non-cash benefits which are made available through companies who provide relevant services to customers of my Department.
In the case of the free travel scheme, free travel is available on the services of CIÉ and some 80 private transport operators around the country. Additional service providers, such as the new urban bus companies who wish to carry passengers entitled to free travel, may apply to participate in the scheme. To be accepted, the provider must operate scheduled services on the route(s) for which participation is sought, must have up to date licences to operate the services and their  buses must be insured. In addition, they must have a current tax clearance certificate.
The position is similar in relation to the electricity allowance and telephone allowance schemes in that companies providing electricity and telephone services to people benefiting under these schemes may also apply to participate. In these cases there are significant technical and business issues affecting both the suppliers and the Department which have to be resolved.
Discussions are under way with three private transport operators. In addition, preliminary discussions have taken place with electricity and telephone service providers regarding their participation in the relevant schemes. These service providers are considering the implications for their operations of participating in these schemes at present.
Dáil Éireann 540 Written Answers. Free Schemes.