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Medical Card U-turn shows Government ‘making it up as it goes along’ – Gerry Adams TD

17 June, 2014 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny if those adversely affected by the removal of Medical Cards will be compensated and for the Government to state clearly if all those who need medical cards will get them.

The remarks follow an embarrassing U-turn by the Government in relation to its Medical card policy, which Gerry Adams says is further evidence that the Government is making up policy as it goes along. He said it was time the Minister for Health was removed from his post.

The Sinn Féin Leader also raised, once again, the circumstances surrounding the appointment and subsequent resignation of the Chairman of the West-North West Hospital Group,Noel Daly and also the fact that there has as yet, been no Government response to the issue of missing files on which decisions were made about people’s entitlement to a Discretionary Medical Card, and which was first brought to light several weeks ago by the Ombudsman.

Gerry Adams said:

“I listened to the Minister for Health announcing the restoration of Medical Cards on the radio at lunchtime. It would have been far better if he had come in to the Dáil but that’s not the way this Government works.

“I asked two weeks ago for the Health Minister to make a statement over his appointment of the Chairman of the West-North West Hospital Group. I am still waiting. In the meantime this individual has resigned. Incidentally the Minister’s first response to a question from Caoimhghín Ó Caolain TD was to defend the appointment.

“To date, no explanation, whether for the resignation or the original appointment has been given to the Dáil or to the public.

“Last week I asked the Taoiseach what has happened to the original files on which decisions were made about people’s entitlement to a Discretionary Medical Card, and which the Ombudsman says are lost. I am still waiting for a response.

“While I welcome today’s announcement in relation to Medical Cards and commend those citizens who fought to achieve this u-turn, a number of questions now arise.

“Firstly will those citizens who have been adversely affected through the removal of their Medical Card be compensated for the hardship and costs that they endured?

“Given the confusion that has been caused to date by the handling of this issue, the Government should now state very clearly that all those who need medical cards will get them

“This embarrassing U-turn in health policy is further evidence that the Minister and the Government is making up policy as it goes along. It’s time that the Minister for Health was removed from his post, not just over the issue of Medical Cards but for the series of calamities over which he has presided.

“The government’s handling of the Medical Cards issue has been a catastrophe. This was a Cabinet decision. The Taoiseach and every member of the Government decided on this.

“Thousands of families and individuals have been put through unnecessary hardship and anguish as a result of a brutal and heartless Government decision to remove their Cards.

“This has been explained away as an “unintended consequence”. I don’t understand that. The intention was to remove Medical Cards. Did none of the Cabinet members think to ask what the consequences would be?

“There is some doubt as to the figure of 15,000 people quoted by the Minister as being affected by this issue. John Hennessy, the HSE Director of Primary Care has previously quoted a figure of 30,000 people.

“I note that today’s decision on Medical Cards is described by the Government as a “temporary measure”. We need to be told what this means exactly.”

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