It seems that IrishRail is actively watching out for gay and lesbian couples who might be getting the train. Minister for Setting things back 30 years Mary Coughlan, when she was in charge of social welfare put a law in place that denied samesex couples the ability to travel on a companion travel pass and IrishRail started enforcing it this year. They now have public notices in train stations that state:
Only named persons that have signed the rear of the pass and that are of a different gender are entitled to use the pass.
The “rules” mean that you can claim a companion pass even if you are unmarried, once the person is of the opposite sex. You can blab on about the Constitution and the protection of marriage and such but if unmarried couples who are not gay or lesbian can get the pass then that’s some serious inequality there. Or an old person with a non-loving, non-sexual partner. Up to the rule change by Coughlan, samesex couples could claim the pass if they passed the same eligibility tests as heterosexual couples. Of course if an elderly gay couple(I hear there’s at least 4 in the country) and an elderly lesbian couple went training around the country they would be allowed if they put a person from the other couple on their pass and vice-versa.
IrishRail’s spokesperson confirmed in an email to Suzy Byrne that they have been stopping gay couples from availing of this.