Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has admitted the 26 County State ‘didn’t have a leg to stand on’ in relation to disability payments deliberately withheld from people in care.
An RTE television documentary has revealed the State denied thousands of vulnerable people in residential care their Disabled Persons Maintenance Allowance (DPMA).
A memo which dates back to 2009 reportedly outlined that if families were to take cases, they would likely succeed.
The scandal follows just days after it emerged that Dublin governments wrongfully extracted charges from families forced to seek care from private nursing homes.
Speaking in the Dáil, Varadkar said the government ‘didn’t have a leg to stand on’ in relation to disability payments withheld from people in care, but he stressed it is ‘different in substance’ to the nursing home charges scandal.
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said it was another strategy to ‘conceal, to deny, to cover up’, instead of protecting vulnerable citizens.
“The story of these strategies is a sordid tale of successive governments involving Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party, the late Progressive Democrats, actively working against the interests of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” she said.
Last week, the Mail On Sunday revealed a legal strategy by the State in relation to families who were required to use private nursing homes because public spaces were not available.
A malign strategy was advanced to settle the cases out of court to prevent cases from being taken after the charges were found to be illegal by a 2010 Ombudsman’s report into the issue.
The Dublin government continues to claim there was no obligation to pay for private nursing home care, and has so far avoided being brought before a court.
Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the State’s approach to litigation was ‘indistinguishable from any faceless private corporate entity – it’s a war of attrition against those who dare to sue it’.
Ms McDonald said vulnerable people need government “to stand up for them – instead of governments facing them down and fighting them tooth and nail at every turn to deny them things that they were entitled to”.