By Mary Regan, Political Editor Irish Examiner
The Taoiseach has been told to “hang your head in shame” over the hardship caused by the removal of discretionary medical cards from children and adults with serious illnesses and profound disabilities.
However, Enda Kenny hit back at the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, saying he “disgraced” himself by not keeping promises he made during the 2002 general election to expand the provision of medical cards.
“In 2002, Deputy Martin promised the electorate 200,000 extra medical cards, when he left in 2004, 100,000 had lost eligibility,” the Taoiseach told the Dáil.
There were angry exchanges during leaders’ questions over the issue that has been raised consistently in the Dáil over the past 18 months.
Mr Martin listed a number of cases including a person with motor neurone disease, on a ventilator and being cared for by family members, whose card has only been renewed for six months.
He said “enormous stress” is being caused.
Mr Martin said: “This thing is out of control Taoiseach, it is a disgrace, I think you should hang your dead in shame at a policy that is focused on taking cards from people who need it.”
"You have been warned enough now by many, many people on your own side - backbenchers - and deputies from every other party here. This calls for a genuine intervention.”
The Taoiseach said he had called in the HSE and the Minister for Health to discuss the issue.
Mr Kenny said: “I don’t believe in a case of the HSE asking a somebody six months further on if they still have motor neurone.”
After being heckled by the opposition who said “that's what’s happening", the Taoiseach said: “I understand. And that is why I have intervened here to put a stop to that.”