I asked for an update from Minister Frances Fitzgerald regarding the granting of medical cards to children in receipt of domiciliary care allowance as per the budget commitment. The Minister assured me that she expected the relevant legislation, which she acknowledged is a priority to be in the Dáil shortly. I will continue to follow up and keep you updated.
Highest number from Independent TD Seamus Healy who has made 1,323 since 2011
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former Minister for Health James Reilly have made more than 300 representations each on behalf of constituents in relation to medical cards since 2011, according to new from the Department of Health.
Mr Kenny has made 330 representations over the past 4½ years, while Dr Reilly, who was Minister at the Department for over three years until July 2014, has made 315.
They are both among the top 40 TDs who have made most representations.
Current Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is at number 100 of the 220 parliamentarians, having made 126 representations to the National Medical Card Unit dedicated contact channel.
The disclosure that both Mr Kenny and Mr Reilly made a higher than average number of representations may draw criticism from the Opposition, given that thousands of patients lost their right to discretionary medical cards during 2013 and 2014. The Government reversed the decision following its poor performance in the local elections in the summer of 2014.
The TD who has made the highest number of representations is the Tipperary Independent Seamus Healy who made 1,323, almost double the number of representations made by the second-placed TD, another Tipperary Independent Mattie McGrath, who made 741.
In third place is another Independent Michael Healy-Rae from Kerry, who made 670 representations.
The information was obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs Sean Sherlock. The Cork East Labour Party TD is the fourth in the list with 664. He made the highest number of representations in his own party, one ahead of his Labour Party colleague and Minister for Environment Alan Kelly who made 646 representations.
Longford-Westmeath TD Robert Troy is the highest-ranked Fianna Fáil member on the list, with 622 representations, while Martin Heydon of Fine Gael, with 599, made more representations than any other Deputy in his party. Other Ministers who made a high number of representations include Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan (436); Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring (398) and Minister of State for Europe Dara Murphy (367).
The table is broken down between calls, emails and letters. Mr Healy made more than 650 calls and sent more than 650 emails but sent no letters. The most frequent letter writers were Barry Cowen of Fianna Fáil (44), Jack Wall of Labour (43) and Mr Sherlock (38).
Question to An Taoiseach:
Seamus Healy TD: In June, some weeks after the local elections, the Taoiseach came to the House and agreed that his Government would restore medical cards to people who had lost them. These were people who had held them on discretionary medical grounds. The process was to take three weeks. It is now four months later and there are still thousands of people who have not had their cards restored.
When will that process finish? When will the committee of experts that was set up at the time to address this issue report? Has it reported? Will the report be placed before the House? In particular, when will the cards be restored to the thousands of people who, four months later, still have not got their cards back?
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny: I thought the vast majority of people had had their cards restored following the Government decision. As I understand it, the Minister has not yet received the Keane report into the matter but it is due to be sent to him shortly. Obviously, he will examine that, assess the report’s analysis and findings and bring it before Government and the House in due course.
Seamus Healy TD—Leaders Questions Thursday April 10
Minister Brendan Howlin , Labour, holds the second most senior economic ministry.
At leaders questions, Seamus Healy TD took the Labour Party to task for bringing in regressive Budgets which hit the poor harder than the rich (See ESRI Report on recent budgets http://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/QEC2013Win_SA_Callan.pdf)
The 2014 budget was more unfair to the poor than the FF/Green budgets. He sought the restoration of the respite grant for carers, cuts in home heating allowances and child benefit. He called for increased taxes on the 10,000 who earn on average 595,000 per year each (Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan in reply to a parliamentary question on Oct 3, 2012). Deputy Healy pointed out that the total gross financial assets of households (324 Billion) are now back above the peak 2006 level (Table 3 Institutional Sector Accounts Central Statistics Office 2013)
The bulk of these assets are held by the top 10% of the population (all those with mortgages and/or credit card debt have negative financial assets- houses, farms and business premises are not financial assets). Deputy Healy sought that a wealth tax be placed on very large financial assets of the super-rich.
The arrogant response of Minister Howlin (standing in for Eamonn Gilmore) was to describe the question as “drivel” and to accuse Deputy Healy of proposing “fantasy taxes” He suggested that an increase in income tax on those on 595,000 would not yield significant revenue (Conservative friends of the rich have been making this argument for centuries) . He claimed that the local property tax which leaves the financial assets of the wealthy untouched and applies to the unemployed was an adequate response.
Any reasonably numerate person can calculate that an extra tax on the total of 5.95 Billion earned each year by the top 10,000 income recipients and on the 324 billion in financial assets would bring significant extra revenue to the state. Howlin and the Labour Party do not want to listen. They attack the poor and those on middle incomes instead. That is why the Labour Party is heading for wipe-out and oblivion.
Seamus Healy TD
Irish Examiner Friday April 11 Juno McEnroe
Independent TD Seamus Healy yesterday called on the Government to introduce an asset or wealth tax in the next budget.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, Mr Healy pointed to ESRI findings that the last budget had the greatest impact on low-income groups.
Labour had reneged on election pledges in 2011 and cut payments for the vulnerable, including child benefit, he said.
“It made promises with full knowledge of the situation in 2011. The assets of the super rich are back above peak levels in 2006, according to the Central Statistics Office,” Mr Healy said.
He called on the Coalition to introduce a wealth tax on those who earn over €595,000 a year.
Brendan Howlin, the public expenditure minister, rejected his criticism and said the TD engaged in “fantasy” taxes.