Fine Gael Cork South Central TD, Jerry Buttimer, has today (Wednesday) said that Micheál Martin’s response to the Travers Report into nursing home charges when he was Minister for Health in 2005 illustrates the Fianna Fáil leader’s hypocrisy in his criticism of Alan Shatter and the current Government.
“Micheál Martin would no doubt prefer to forget his spectacular failure to deal with the illegal charging of nursing home residents, when he was Minister for Health. But the reality is, his mishandling of the affair, and the subsequent excuses he used, illustrate the utter hypocrisy of Micheál Martin’s statements in the Dáil this week.
“When the Travers Report into nursing home charges was published in 2005, Micheál Martin claimed that he had never been given details, provided to his Department in 2003, which suggested the charges were illegal. This is despite the fact that the Secretary General of the Department of Health clearly stated that he had briefed Deputy Martin twice on the matter.
“At the time, Micheál Martin defended his handling of the matter by claiming he wasn’t briefed by his officials. His officials said otherwise. In Micheál Martin’s case, a senior departmental official he had briefed him on a number of occasions, but he failed to act for over two years. In the case of Alan Shatter, immediate action was taken after the Minister and the Taoiseach were briefed in relation to the recording of phone calls in Garda stations.
“Once the Government was made aware of the issue of phone recordings at Garda stations, it acted. Back in 2003, when Micheál Martin was briefed on illegal nursing home charges, he did nothing. It’s also worth remembered that it was estimated that the illegal charges cost the State up to €2 billion in compensation payments.
“Nursing home charges had been allowed to continue for almost 30 years. When the issue was brought to Micheál Martin’s attention in 2003, he did nothing about it, and then claimed a file on the matter had gone ‘missing’.
“The recording of phone calls at Garda stations is also understood to have gone on for 30 years. Within 36 hours of it being brought to the attention of this Government, the Taoiseach had set up a Commission of Investigation. Micheál Martin should reflect on his own record, rather than criticising this Government for its swift and decisive action.”