'For those of us living in the country, we rely on the free travel'
LIVING in the country means that it is important for Maura O'Keeffe to be able to use her car and to have access to free travel when she can get a bus or train.
The 71-year-old woman has a recurring back problem and is unable to walk far.
She drives, as she is three miles from the nearest bus or train. But she takes public transport when she can.
"I and other older people were glad free travel wasn't touched in the Budget.
"If it was, the Government would know about it," she says.
"When the elections come around, older people are mostly the ones who go out and vote.
"We were outside the Dáil twice or three times last time in the rain - the rain did not stop a very large group of older citizens. The political parties depend on us a lot for votes."
She likes to keep active when her health permits and the widower regularly spends time carrying out volunteer work with older people, and she said that the stripping of the telephone allowance last year "made a shocking difference", as many relied on it for the fitting of a security alarm in their homes.
"I feel very secure with an alarm," she says, adding that feeling safe in your own home and not living "in fear of being robbed" is a basic right.
"It has been very bad over the last few years. Especially if you live in the country and you have to keep a car on the road," she says.