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Facing call to resign, Taoiseach says medical card issues 'will all be sorted out'

As Gerry Adams told Enda Kenny to resign in the Dáil today, the Taoiseach blamed “systems failures” for problems with discretionary medical cards.

Enda Kenny in the Dáil this afternoon
Enda Kenny in the Dáil this afternoon
Image: Screengrab

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has admitted that there should not be a situation where seriously ill children have lost their discretionary medical cards and blamed “systems failure” and “the process of change” for a number of cases that have been highlighted recently.

Kenny also faced calls to resign today from the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams during a heated and lengthy Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin again raised the issue of medical cards being taken from chronically ill children and adults blaming a “consistent” policy to withdraw cards cards and claiming “thousands of cards across the country have been taken from people”.

Kenny said in response: “I saw some of the cases mentioned in the media. These were cases that the system should have been able to deal with, but because of the process of change here something was missed.”

He admitted that “we shouldn’t have a situation like this” and said that there was a “systems failure that didn’t know about the information involved here” either because letters from the HSE were not replied to or people “get scared” when they receive letters.

Kenny insisted: “I hope that out of all of this difficulty for these parents and their children that this matter will be sorted out.”

He said he has spoken to parents in recent days who have “some exceptional cases” where medical cards have been refused, adding: “These will all be sorted out.”

‘A cheek’

Kenny also hit out at Martin accused him of having “a cheek to come in here and presume now to use your opportunistic political opportunity to say these things”, slamming the opposition party leader’s record in government.

He said that Health Minister James Reilly has managed to make “serious changes” to the structure of the Irish health system and pointed out that 43 per cent of population has access to free GP care with nearly 1.9 million medical cards in circulation.

Kenny said a new communications strategy has been put in place by the HSE to allay the fears of people over their medical cards.

“The challenges facing the health area are challenging but they’re achievable,” he said.

Adams said that Kenny should resign and go to the people on his policies, but Kenny responded: “We’re not in the business here, Deputy Adams, of shirking responsibility.”

Independent TD Clare Daly, speaking for the Technical Group, called on the Taoiseach to admit that he and his government are pursuing a “neo-liberal agenda”.

During a rowdy and lengthy Leaders’ Questions, independent TD Michael Healy-Rae called on the government benches to meet the elderly people protesting outside Leinster House today.

“Ye ran from them today,” he shouted across the Dáil chamber.

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Read: “It’s time to shout stop.” – Elderly people to protest outside Dáil

‘The most vulnerable people in our society’: Dáil hears medical card horror stories

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Hugh O'Connell

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