Taoiseach: Increase in threshold for medical cards for over 70s to proceed

Taoiseach: Increase in threshold for medical cards for over 70s to proceed

Speaking at a private meeting of his own parliamentary party, Mr Martin said the commitment to deliver on the increase will be acted upon.

Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the increase in the threshold for medical cards for over 70s will proceed. 

He said they are “not contingent on savings” found in the Department of Health budget.

Speaking at a private meeting of his own parliamentary party, Mr Martin said the commitment to deliver on the increase will be acted upon.

Doubt had arisen over the promise after such savings had not been achieved because of Covid-19.

"Obviously, savings haven't been achieved due to Covid," said Junior Health Minister Frank Feighan when asked about setting a commencement date in the Seanad last week. 

The failure to establish the extra entitlement had "undoubtedly been a source of frustration to those people aged 70 and over who may be eligible under the new thresholds", he said.

But Mr Martin moved to quell a potential backlash saying the commitment will be delivered upon.

He also told his TDs and Senators that foreign funding of Irish political parties must form part of the review into former politicians taking up lobbying jobs.

Mr Martin was speaking at a private meeting of his parliamentary party on Tuesday night and fended off questions from several TDs and Senators about the review of the legislation relating to the Standards in Public Office Commission.

The Cabinet agreed the review in the wake of former Senator Michael D’Arcy’s resignation and appointment as CEO of a lobby group for investment managers.

Mr Martin’s comments to the effect that the review of SIPO rules must include foreign funding and their impact on politics here was seen as a clear attack on Sinn Féin.

He told the meeting that the best way of reforming politics is the establishment of an electoral commission.

Cork North-Central TD Padraig Sullivan urged the Taoiseach to contest Senate vacancy caused by Mr D’Arcy’s resignation to allow the party to reassert its identity.

Mr Martin was said to be "non committal" suggesting a reciprocal arrangement would apply if it was a Fianna Fáil vacany, leading many to conclude the party will not be contesting it.

Senator Malcolm Byrne said he wants Fianna Fáil to work on it's identity and contesting the Senate might be part of that. 

"If SIPO takes as long to investigate D’Arcy as it does to deal with election returns then Darcy's year will be up," he quipped.

In relation to the Budget, Mr Martin said the budget will respond to the twin threats of Covid and Brexit.

Mr Martin told his party colleagues that housing, climate and broadband will be given priority in terms of capital spending.

Mr Martin also singled out the hospitality sector as one which is likely to get targeted supports in the Budget.

Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath also hit out at Sinn Féin “scaremongering” over the banks’ treatment of homeowners and payment breaks.

He accused Sinn Féin of misleading people about the bank's repayment breaks, saying they are causing huge distress for people.

Earlier, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien updated TDS on housing and homelessness, telling his colleagues that the delivery of public housing now "weeks behind" because of Covid.

Mr O’Brien said the far left wanted to see evictions for their own political ends but that is not happening.

Junior Trade Minister Robert Troy said he wants to see his party delivering on affordable housing. He says some local authorities are not delivering on Social housing and they're abdicating their responsibility to agencies. The department needs to be checked on this.

More in this section