The Irish Times report that Ruairí Quinn has told the Dáil that cutbacks in entitlements to the elderly were “not anywhere on the horizon, nor are they contemplated”. He said whatever future budgetary decisions were made would be communicated to the House in the normal way. “Having completed our first year in office, it is the intention of the Government, over the next four years, to implement the programme for government and to extend free GP care to every citizen in the State . . . among the things we will do.”

Mr Quinn was replying to Independent TD Finian McGrath, who asked if the Government was preparing to get rid of free travel, gas and electricity units for pensioners. Saying that he wanted “to raise the plight of our senior citizens during this major economic crisis”, Mr McGrath said everyone acknowledged the massive contribution they had made to the State. “They have worked hard and paid their taxes,” he added. He asked why the Government was ignoring its commitment to give priority to investment for older people in community and residential settings. He said the programme for government also stated that funding would be provided for residential places and homecare packages.


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