Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath has criticised comments by the Finance Minister Noonan promising that the Government will address the medical cards issue ‘after the local elections’, describing them as a cynical effort to deflect attention from a policy he was centrally involved in devising.

Yesterday the Minister for Finance claimed that ‘the approach to review of medical cards will have to be changed.’ This comes after 3 budgets in which the Government directly targeted the medical card system for cuts, including a pledge in Budget 2014 to achieve €113m in savings from “medical card probity”.

Deputy McGrath commented, “The Minister for Finance sits on the Economic Management Council which drew up the Budget. He was centrally involved in the decisions which directly led to the withdrawal of medical cards from thousands of families including those with very sick children. It is utter hypocrisy from him now to express concern about the manner in which the policy he drew up has been implemented,” commented Deputy McGrath.

“Fine Gael and Labour have been under sustained pressure over the removal of thousands of medical cards from people with acute medical needs. My party has raised the issue with the Government on a constant basis over the past two years, only to be told each time that there were no cuts to discretionary cards and the policy had not changed.

“The Minister’s sudden realisation about the impact of medical card cuts with the thousands of people whose concerns were ignored for the past two years. We have been witnessing a dismantling of the system of discretionary medical cards which provided vital support to families struggling with chronic health conditions and an undermining of the medical card system generally.

“There is no evidence to suggest the Government are even considering reversing this policy after the elections. Minister Noonan’s sole motivation seems to be the preservation of council seats for his party colleagues. Instead of vague aspirations from the Minister on the eve of polling day, families need a clear commitment to restore those cards that have been unfairly withdrawn.”