“It is extremely regrettable that thousands of families across the country were put through the stress and hardship of having their medical cards withdrawn before the Government finally saw sense today,” Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has said.

“For two years the government has ignored and denied that there was a deliberate policy to cut discretionary medical cards.  The Taoiseach, Minister Reilly and Minister White all took a completely dismissive attitude to the concerns raised by Fianna Fáil and groups supporting children with serious illnesses and disabilities.

“Now in the wake of public outrage and backbench panic they have finally acted.  It took the loss of hundreds of council seats to make the government act on the loss of thousands of medical cards.

“The decision to extend the eligibility criteria to medical conditions is also very important.  I hope the government moves quickly on this and they should examine doing this by bringing forward amendments to the GP bill that has just commenced in the Dáil.

“It is not clear from the Department’s statement today if the suspension of medical card reviews is confined to discretionary cards only.  Discretionary cards account for just 50,000 of the 1.8 million cards so we need clarification if the other reviews are suspended too.”