Pro IQRA News Updates.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the state “doesn’t have a leg to stand on” regarding disability payments withheld from people in care, but stressed that it is “different in substance” to the story of nursing home fees.
It comes after an RTÉ investigation revealed that thousands of vulnerable people in residential care were denied the Disability Support Allowance (DPMA) by the state.
A 2009 memo reportedly indicated that if families were to take cases, they were more likely to succeed.
Sinn Féin president Mary Lou MacDonald said it was another strategy to “hide, deny, cover up”, rather than protect vulnerable citizens.
It comes after the Mail on Sunday newspaper revealed a legal strategy by the state in relation to families forced to use private nursing homes when public spaces were not available.
Where is the sympathy and care for people?
Why have successive governments refused payments for people with disabilities and refunds for nursing homes to which they are entitled?
Why, instead of standing up for people, did they take on some of the most vulnerable in our society? – @tweet pic.twitter.com/y6iHF0nqRC
– Sinn Fein (@sinnfeinireland) February 1, 2023
It was reported that the strategy sought to settle cases out of court to prevent further cases being brought, regarding elderly care fees deemed “unlawful” in the Ombudsman’s 2010 report on the issue.
Whether the charges are illegal has never been tested in the courts, but the state insists it has no obligation to pay for private hospice care home care.
Ms MacDonald said vulnerable people need government to “defend them – instead of governments confronting them and fighting them with all their might and denying them the things they’re entitled to”.
Mr Varadkar said the two issues were very different.
During Leaders’ Questions on Wednesday, he told Ms MacDonald: “The legal advice with regard to the Department for Disarmament Affairs was that the state did not have a leg to stand on.
“The legal advice with regard to nursing homes is that these charges were not illegal, and that has never been proven, MP.
“You make an assertion that has not been proved and has not been proved and your final assertion that people are forbidden to go to court – no one is forbidden to go to court, MP. You cannot prevent someone from going to court in Ireland. That is a completely wrong statement.
“There have been cases that have been settled and there are cases that have not been settled that may be taken to court, deputy, so this assertion is also false.”
Labor leader Ivana Pasek said the state’s approach to litigation “is indistinguishable from any faceless private corporate entity – it is a war of attrition against those who dare to sue it”.
It called on the government to reassess the role of the Attorney General, and said it was “not right or transparent” that ministers could “hide behind unpublished legal advice” provided by this office.
The government’s position on denying nursing home fees…
Mr Varadkar reiterated that the cases are very different. “It looks different to me on the nursing home fee case, and it looks different in substance because the legal advice is different,” he said.
He added that the governments he was a part of worked to correct the country’s past mistakes. “We have devoted an enormous amount of time, care and resources to righting some of the wrongs of the past, even where there is no legal responsibility on the part of the state,” he said.