Saturday 18 January 2020

Kenny hits back at claims he 'targeted the elderly'

Fionnan Sheahan

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny claimed the Government was still "protecting and supporting the elderly", despite a series of savage Budget hits.

In fiery scenes in the Dail, Mr Kenny defended the Budget amid accusations from the opposition that the Coalition was "targeting" the elderly and "discriminating" against young people.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the cutting of the telephone allowance and over-70s medical cards was "savage" and said there was a "wider witchhunt" of over 100,000 medical cards.

"You add it all up and it adds up to a savage attack and targeting of older people," he said.

But Mr Kenny said the old age pension, fuel allowance and tax treatment of the elderly remained the same.

On the medical cards, he said a review of the system was designed to take out cards where some people had died, some circumstances had changed, migrant workers had gone home and some people were no longer eligible. He said there were 1.8 million medical cards in the system and 97pc of people over 70 would have access to medical cards or free GP care.

But Mr Martin said "older people will find your response incredible" and there was a "big lie" being made by the Government.

"You are taking money from older people via the back door," he said.

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly claimed cuts to the dole for young people "discriminates" against a group in society.

He said the dole cut was a human rights issue and "women, non-whites, Muslims" would not be targeted in this way.

Mr Kenny cited a specific case of a man on the dole, whose benefits meant he could not take up a job.

"Where's the incentive to work?" he said.

"I believe the changes made here are really in the interests of young people."

Irish Independent

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