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Michael Nooan Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
not now

Noonan: We will deal with medical card issues... after the election

The finance minister said acting this week would be dismissed as a “stunt”.

Updated 11.11pm

MICHAEL NOONAN HAS said the government will review its approach to discretionary medical cards after this week’s European and local elections.

The finance minister said action would not be taken on the matter this week to avoid it being dismissed as a “stunt”.

The review of medical cards has to be changed. We’re not going to do it before the election because we’d be accused, probably, of some kind of stunt. Shortly after the election that issue will be at rest, preparatory work has been done already.

The government has been sharply criticised recently after many people lost their rights to the cards.

Noonan was speaking at an event in Dublin this afternoon where he and outgoing MEP Gay Mitchell officially endorsed Fine Gael’s European election candidate in the capital, Brian Hayes.

Noonan said that he was initially “disappointed” when he found out that Hayes, who is the junior minister at the department of finance, was going to run for a seat in Europe.

He said Hayes was the right person for the job but, if elected, it would mean a huge loss to the both department and him personally.

Hayes returned the favour, describing Noonan as the “glue” that holds Fine Gael and Labour together.

He also welcomed Noonan’s recent promise of income tax breaks in this and next year’s budgets.

“More money in people’s pockets will encourage spending in the domestic economy which only incentivises job creation. The best and fairest economic stimulus of all is a tax cut. Supporting job growth must remain the clear focus of government and tax breaks for people at work is the logical next step,” Hayes stated.

He added that many emigrants are not coming home due to our “penal” tax rates.

Opinion polls

Noonan denied Labour’s poor showing in recent polls was a cause for concern, saying all coalition ministers were doing “a very good job”.

Noonan said opinion polls often gave “contradictory” information during what is a “very volatile campaign”. He added that while out canvassing with Ireland South candidate he encountered “very little friction on the doorstep”.

We signed up for five years … our job is not finished.

He stressed the importance of voting in the local election, saying councillors “will decide how people’s taxes are spent”.

Mitchell, who has been an MEP for Dublin since 2004, said Hayes was the “right man” to send to Europe.

In the European Parliament it’s more to do with perseverance, networking, contact with the group you’re a member of. The European People’s Party, with which Fine Gael is affiliated, is the most respected and is going to be the biggest group [in the Parliament].

Mitchell said an effective MEP was someone who could negotiate and compromise, not a person who would always complain and ”jump up and down”.

- First published 4.16pm

Read: ‘They took the medical card from our little girl. She has Cerebral Palsy and may never walk’

Related: Outsourcing of medical card reviews to German company blamed for ‘bizarre judgements’

Read: Noonan: Income tax burden will be eased next year, Gilmore: ‘It’s too soon to speculate’

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