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Irish Rail confirm that same sex couples have sought Free Travel

September 2nd, 2008 · 19 Comments · Uncategorized

Dublin Heuston railway stationImage via Wikipedia

… and they say that they are enforcing the law in not allowing them access to travel.

I have received responses from Barry Kenny in Iarnród Éireann in relation to the post on the enforcement on the ban on use of the Free travel pass by same sex couples.

The first response

Iarnród Éireann, in common with other public transport providers, are obliged to ensure the terms of the Free Travel Scheme as set out by the Department of Social and Family Affairs are adhered to.  As you correctly allude to in your post, the DSFA pays for free travel, and therefore it is the authority which sets the parameters of who is and who is not entitled to free travel.  To ensure we remain within these parameters, we would always ensure that our staff are aware of the current provisions as they apply.  The notice in question is a direct copy of the terms and conditions of the travel scheme that we are obliged to operate for the DSFA, and is posted in the interior of a ticket checkers booth in Heuston Station.

I would advise therefore that any issue you have with these provisions be addressed to the DSFA.

I responded by indicating that it was the enforcement of the law and the points contained in my original post that I was interested in and I outlined them again.

What follows below is Barry Kenny’s response on behalf of the company. My questions are in italics and his repsonses are in bold print.

Have you any incidence of same sex couples attempting travel on one of these passes since 2004 and committing revenue offences?

Yes, there have been a number of such instances.

What training staff have in dealing with the matter should someone attempt to be accompanied by someone of the same gender on their travel pass?

Staff are trained to be aware of the relevant ticketing / passes required.  No specific training is required in relation to this issue.

Have Iarnród Éireann considered reporting on the effects of this scheme on lesbians and gay men to the various Government departments involved as part of the company’s equality mandate.

This is a matter of national policy for the DSFA.

What about the person who did get a pass for his partner in the settlement of his case versus the Department of Social and Family Affairs in 2003 – is he safe to take the train?? Or will a ticket checker armed with this notice stop him the next time he sees him try to use the pass that he was rightfully granted.

If the pass is granted as part of a settlement between the DSFA and their client, we will of course honour the entitlement – as stated previously, the DSFA issue facilities and decree who can and cannot benefit.

Finally I assume from your previous response that the notice will remain on display viewable by the public?. Do Iarnród Éireann intend to do any public campaigns advising on the use of and eligibility to Free Travel Passes?

The notice will remain in the staff area.  DSFA is responsible for ensuring all pass holders are aware of the provisions of the scheme.

So there we have it – people are being stopped from travelling because they have been found to be wanting to be treated equally.

I know all about the law and know what needs to be done to change the law. But what really stands out to me is the fact that there are couples out there who are trying to live their lives and enforce equality and there’s a notice in a ticket checkers kiosk in Heuston that tells staff to make sure they can’t get on the train like their married neighbours and heterosexual unmarried couple cohorts can.  It’s not just the law that’s offensive but I don’t think Iarnród Éireann see the offence.

It might be time to take a train….

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