Northern Ireland

Danny Kennedy: Free passes for Northern Ireland over 60s under threat

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Media captionDanny Kennedy said he faces a fight to get the £9m the scheme needs this year

Funding to help provide free public transport for people aged over 60 is under threat, according to Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy.

The figure involved is £9m and it is understood to be at risk in spending deliberations at Stormont.

The concessionary travel scheme has been funded by the public purse and operated by Translink on its buses and trains since 2008.

Mr Kennedy acknowledged discussions were currently taking place.

"Everyone is aware of the current economic situation," he told the BBC.

"I think the fundamental challenge to the executive is will it maintain a concessionary fare scheme paid for in full by the executive?

"I am a huge supporter of the scheme and I will be battling hard to retain it as an executive priority."

Image caption The free transport scheme has been operated by Translink since 2008

The Northern Ireland Executive met on Tuesday with departmental spending on its agenda.

However, budget allocations could not be agreed.

First Minister Peter Robinson has warned unspecified projects faced being suspended or abandoned unless decisions can be finalised in the coming days.

It is not clear if the transport scheme is one of those.

Added into the mix is disagreement over the implementation of welfare reform, which has seen fines imposed on the Executive by the Treasury.

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