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Minister hiding behind the separation of powers to justify her own refusal to act – Ó Snodaigh

10 May, 2011 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD called on the Government to make a compensatory gesture to people in the protection of the courts on account of mental incapacity because the funds managed by the courts services lost significant value between 2007 and 2009.

In response to Deputy Ó Snodaigh Minister Joan Burton refused to comment on saying it would be inappropriate as it is an issue for the courts.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh accused the Minister of hiding behind the separation of powers to justify her own refusal to make an exemption in the means testing rules for a very small number of people to receive disability allowance.

Debating the issue in the Dáil with the Minister Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"Wards of court are by definition vulnerable and the state owes them an enhanced duty of care. The state via the Courts Service is responsible for the administration and investment of a Wards’ fund. And many Wards are wholly dependent on it for their living expenses.

“Between 2007 and 2009 these funds lost significant value. Considering their special status and the state’s responsibility in the matter, I am asking the Minister to make a compensatory gesture to the Wards affected for this loss by making a disability payment available to them from here out which could supplement their funds thereby helping them to stretch further.

“By claiming that the value of all funds have since fully recovered the Minister is misrepresenting the facts. You have to sell units of the fund when you need money and as the value of the funds decreased between 2007 and 2009 the amounts of units that had to be sold to generate the same income increased dramatically which diminished the number of units in the fund at an exceptional rate. This prohibits true recovery and means that the fund cannot possibly provide for the Ward for the duration that was originally envisaged.” ENDS

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