Independents seek 10,000 medical cards in budget talks

As it begins budget talks with Fine Gael today, the Independent Alliance will seek 10,000 more medical cards for sick children, pension hikes, increased rural community support, carer reforms, and greater help for mortgage holders.
Independents seek 10,000 medical cards in budget talks

The plans are due to be outlined to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, and Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe after they were agreed by the alliance members last night.

It is believed the alliance will be seeking medical cards for at least 10,000children who are currently in receipt of the domiciliary care allowance, a move which has previously been called for by campaign groups.

In addition, it will also call for a pension rise not exceeding €5, greater supports for carers and rural families, and help for mortgage holders.

Junior minister Finian McGrath is expected to raise the issue of how long it is taking to employ carers with families and the need to have greater supports in place so the processing time can be improved.

Alliance members also want the budget to contain stronger supports for mortgage holders.

While stressing that not all of the issues prioritised are directly related to money bills or the budget itself, as it is “more of a review of where we are and what is being implemented”, an alliance source said it wants “clear fingerprints from us and our elements on [the budget]” as they will have to stand over it alongside Fine Gael in the months to come.

“It will be a budget that we sign up to. We are not in opposition.”

Alliance members agreed the proposals last night during a meeting which saw no discussion of an upcoming Dáil motion on abortion, which was deferred until next week.

Many of the proposals are already contained in the programme for government.

The issue of junior minister John Halligan and his disagreement with the Government over funding of health services in Waterford was also not raised during the meeting, said sources.

The alliance is believed to have postponed a group discussion last night about whether it will support a Dáil motion on liberalising abortion laws as it feels the budget issue is the most pressing debate over the coming days.

The Government has so far failed to agreed a mutual response to Anti Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger’s bill, which is seeking to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Despite almost collapsing amid a row over how to deal with a similar bill from Independent TD Mick Wallace earlier in its term, tensions still exist within Government over the failure to agree a decision.

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