Deputy McGrath has called for reform of the Fair Deal Scheme.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called the Minister of State for Older People, Jim Daly, and the Attorney General, Seamus Woulfe, to immediately clarify what exactly are the legal impediments that may obstruct proposed reforms of the Fair Deal Nursing Home Support Scheme.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after reports confirmed that the Attorney General has raised concerns around the legality of some of the reform measures:
“In May of this year, I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group successfully tabled a Dáil Motion on the need to remove the blatant discrimination in the Fair Deal Scheme as it is currently applied.
“We achieved a successful vote on the motion despite opposition from the government and a rather pathetic policy of abstention from the Fianna Fail party.
“Our Motion explicitly called on the government to honour the commitment in the Programme for Government to remove discrimination against small businesses and family farms. We also called for the introduction of a reduced charge on the farm/business assets that removes the uncertainty for farm families and the self-employed and which protects the future viability of the farm/business asset for future generations.
“The majority of the Dáil voted in support of those measures and that vote must be respected and honoured by the government and indeed the Attorney General.
“The Attorney General has a constitutional obligation to represent the public in the assertion or protection of their public rights, one of which is clearly the need to remove discriminatory measures that take no account of the unique nature of the family farm and its role in Irish society.
“I would hope that whatever ‘obstacles’ to reform that are being considered can be overcome in as swift a manner as possible.
“Rural communities and rural families have suffered long enough under the existing Fair Deal arrangement; an arrangement that cannot be allowed to continue and for which a legal solution must immediately be found,” concluded Deputy McGrath.