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Merrion Street
summer's over

Guess who's back?... Golan and Budget top the agenda, as Ministers return from break

It’s back to the grind for Enda, Joan and their ministers — and there’s some serious work to get through.

THE CABINET MEETS today for the first time in six weeks, with the Budget and the situation in the Golan Heights set to be high on the agenda.

There’s just a month and a half to to until the 14 October Budget and yesterday evening’s Exchequer figures will strengthen the hand of those looking for an easier ride come Budget time, with good news on revenue and expenditure.

The Cabinet is also sure to discuss Michael Noonan’s charm offensive to Europe next week, where the Finance Minister will look for a deal to allow early repayment of Ireland’s IMF loans, which could save us hundreds of millions per year.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney is also set to brief his colleagues on the developing situation in the Golan Heights.

The Government has called for a UN review of the UNDOF mission in the region, involving some 130 Irish troops, in the wake of events in the last few days, which saw peacekeepers come under attack from rebel forces, and Defence Forces personnel called in to carry out a daring rescue mission.

The Minister has said a full review of the mission needs to be carried out by United Nations HQ in New York before the next scheduled rotation of Irish troops, due in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, campaigners with the ‘Our Children’s Health’ group are set to protest at the Dáíl this lunchtime in advance of the scheduled Cabinet meeting, in a bid to refocus attention on the issue of medical cards.

“We need to send a message to Government as they start their new term – we haven’t gone away,” the organisers of the march said in a statement.  

Parents still have no certainty. Right now, some children with very serious conditions are still without medical cards, they do not qualify under the current system – those that have them, live in dread of the next renewal.

An expert panel, made up of doctors and patient groups, is to make recommendations later this month setting out the criteria to be used in deciding who should be automatically entitled to a full medical card.

It followed a change in government policy in May when the controversial review of discretionary medical cards was stopped and the coalition announced plans to grant cards on the basis of medical need for the first time.

Thousands of medical cards were restored to to those with serious medical conditions when the Government rowed back on the plan in June.

Read: Irish soldiers “safe and accounted for” after daring rescue mission

Read: Irish peacekeepers safe but “on high alert” after Golan Heights kidnappings

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