The Dáil will debate a Fianna Fáil motion tonight on services for older people which are being cut by the Government in a regressive and unfair budget according to Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher.

Deputy Kelleher commented: “We believe that Budget 2014 is a brutal betrayal of older people by this government.  Fine Gael and Labour have singled out pensioners for significant cuts next year.  The dramatic cut in the medical card eligibility means that an estimated 35,000 older people will lose their full medical cards while an additional 100,000 medical cards are set to be taken away from people with serious medical conditions.

“The €666m cuts in the health budget next year will cause severe damage to the stability of the health service and undermine service delivery across the board. All of this stems from Minister Reilly’s dysfunctional leadership of the health service.  Our motion before the Dáil today calls on TDs to protect services for older people to allow them to live independently and with dignity.  The range of tax increases and the cut to the telephone allowance are serious changes that will impact directly and disproportionately on older people.

“In particular, we find the scrapping of the bereavement grant to be a very mean-spirited cut.  We have seen Fine Gael and Labour directly contradict the commitments they made before the election and target the generation that built this country for the heaviest burden in this budget.  Pensioners who have worked for decades and paid their taxes have been targeted in order to allow Fine Gael protect the wealthiest and most privileged.  Their medical supports, their household benefits package, the small support they get when they lost a partner, and even their savings are now been targeted.

“TDs from all parties and none have an opportunity today and tomorrow to protect social solidarity and stand against these unfair cuts.  They have the chance to reflect publicly what they are saying privately about Minister James Reilly and support this Fianna Fáil motion.”