Belfast Telegraph

Elderly 'betrayed' on passport fees

Pensioners will be put off renewing their passport if forced to pay full fees, an anti-ageism group has warned.

The elderly will have to pay a minimum 80 euro charge from Monday after the free service for older people was scrapped in December's Budget.

Active Retirement Ireland said the savings will be minimal because pensioners will be reluctant to pay the money.

Maureen Kavanagh, chief executive, said the organisation has received calls from concerned members.

"Many of them feel betrayed as Fine Gael and the Labour Party - when in opposition - had promised to prioritise the protection of older people's rights and entitlements," Ms Kavanagh said.

"Despite this rhetoric, the new Government is now withdrawing a benefit for older people, which, realistically, will result in minimal cost-savings to the State."

Passport fees were scrapped at the height of the boom in 2005 for pensioners, with then foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern stating it was to recognise the years of service and hard work of senior citizens. However, the previous Fianna Fail-Green Party administration stated in the Budget that the over 65s would have to pay.

And the charge for a passport has also been increased by 15 euro if choosing to apply over the counter at the passport office in Dublin, instead of using the passport express option at post offices.

Ms Kavanagh said the Government should at least reduce fees for pensioners, and scrap them altogether for the over 70s.

"At least a compromise like this would ensure that older people continue to apply for passports and enjoy the benefits that having a passport brings," she said.

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