When it comes to public finances, sometimes “uncomfortable” decisions are made, says Micheál Martin
Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said that governments sometimes have to make “awkward” decisions about the use of public finances, including in relation to legal cases they face.
e spoke in response to a question as to whether there was a strategy to withhold disability payments from vulnerable people in institutional care, despite legal advice allegedly indicating it could not be defended.
The problem was highlighted by an RTE investigative program that revealed a 2009 memo reportedly outlined that if families brought legal cases, they were likely to be successful.
Responding to questions from Sinn Féin, Mr Martin said the current government had committed “approximately six billion in retrospective payments” to three or four areas over the past two and a half years.
“Requirements must also be made in relation to the needs of the current generation and the future in terms of resource allocation,” the foreign minister said at the questions from the heads of state and government.
“There will be good times and there will be bad times in terms of public finances and economies are cyclical.
“And there’s a very fundamental problem with how to allocate those resources. At any one time, up to 30 sensitive cases may be pending before the government.
“And ultimately, the government of the day must make decisions regarding them, not all of which are palatable or desirable in any way.”
Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the state received the advice it had no legal defense not to pay out to people retrospectively, saying the state had “no leg to stand on”.
“Since 2007, (the disability benefit) has been fully paid to people with disabilities living in long-term care, so this issue was resolved 15 years ago,” he said.
“However, in 2009 the question arose whether there should have been an additional payment – whether there should have been a retrospective.”
He said the government will study the issue in the coming weeks before responding further.
It comes as the attorney general is due to submit a report to Cabinet next week about health card holders who have been billed for care home care after being unable to get places with public providers.
The Mail On Sunday reported over the weekend that there was a legal strategy to settle the cases out of court to prevent further cases from being opened, after a 2010 Ombudsman report on the matter found the charges to be “illegal”. .
Whether the charges are unlawful has never been tested in court, but the state claims it is not required to pay for private nursing home care.
“I think the government has a responsibility to do what is right and just and we also have a responsibility to protect taxpayers and the public good,” Leo Varadkar told the Dáil on Wednesday.
“You can’t spend the same euro twice.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/unpalatable-decisions-are-sometimes-made-on-public-finances-says-micheal-martin-42325407.html When it comes to public finances, sometimes “uncomfortable” decisions are made, says Micheál Martin