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Sam Boal
state redress

'How far back do we go?': Micheál Martin calls for 'debate' on historical wrongs by the State

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said yesterday that the Government “cannot spend the same euro twice”.

TÁNAISTE MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that there needs to be an “honest debate” about how far the Government goes to deal with historical wrongs by the State.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, Martin said that the Government needed to consider the the issues of the day and compare this to dealing with compensation for historical failings.

Recent revelations by both The Mail on Sunday and RTÉ Investigates have uncovered Government legal strategies for nursing home charges and non-payment of disability allowance.

However, the Tánaiste said that compensation involved taxpayer money being used to fund redress schemes and that the Government had committed to spending over six billion on retrospective payments in the last two years.

“We do need to have an honest debate about it as well, in terms of how far back do we go, how much do we pay in terms of the wrongs of the 20th century?” Martin said.

“Whereas today we have real issues. We’ve an expanding population, we’ve an aging population which needs resources, and we need to advance social care and do better in many respects and that’s the call we need to make.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also said that the Government had a “responsibility to protect the taxpayer and the common good”.

“We cannot spend the same euro twice,” Varadkar said.

“We want the education budget to be spent on educating children and young people today, we want the health budget to be spent on people who are sick and need medicine today, and we want the budget for children to be spent on children who are vulnerable today.

“If too much of today’s budget is diverted to fixing the problems of the past, that has consequences.”

RTÉ Investigates revealed earlier this week that 12,000 vulnerable people had been denied the Disabled Persons’ Maintenance Allowance (DPMA) and that legal advice provided to the Government showed that if they took a case against the State, they were likely to succeed.

Secret memos to the Government showed that the State could be liable for claims of up to €700 million if cases were taken.

The issue relates to vulnerable people who entered residential care, whereby the no longer received the DPMA payments.

Martin told the Dáil this afternoon that the issue had been resolved by late Fianna Fáil Minister Seamus Brennan, allowing residents to access DPMA even when in residential care facilities.

Varadkar yesterday said that the State “didn’t have a leg to stand on” around this case and that it would examine it over the coming weeks.

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