Article from the Mar. 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI

Elderly robbed of 2 billion


Make the bosses pay

by Stephen Boyd

SUCCESSIVE HEALTH ministers from all of the main parties in governments going back 30 years are responsible for illegally charging 315,818 people for long-term residential care.

These elderly people have had 2 billion stolen from them. Only about 20,000 of them are still alive and the current health minister Mary Harney is considering applying the statute of limitations to claims for patients who have died in order to rob their families of the right to claim compensation.

The previous health minister Michael Martin has washed his hands of this problem making the incredible claim that he didn't know that it was illegal for the government to charge for residential care. But of course Michael Martin isn't the only guilty party. Ministers of health from Fine Gael and Labour have also known of this fraud but choose to ignore it or through incompetence did nothing to resolve the problem.

The Socialist Party supports the elderly and their relatives getting full recompense for the money that was stolen from them for their long-term residential care. However we are completely opposed to the government levying this money from the working class in the form of an increase in direct taxation, or stealth taxes and charges. Local authority charges (i.e. bin charges) have risen by more than ten times the rate of inflation over the past three years. That's an increase of 104% since the start of 2002. Inflation figures also show that hospital service charges have risen by six times the rate of inflation, that's up 60% in the same three years.

Working class people are already being fleeced by this government and can't afford to pay for the mistakes of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the PDs! We are also opposed to cuts in health spending or the budgets of any other department in order to come up with this cash.

Instead the government should increase taxes on big business. Successive governments have used the 2 billion stolen from the elderly to fund the health service. This has been one of many measures that allowed them to cut corporation taxes from 50% to 12.5%! Increased taxes on big business would provide desperately needed funds for the health service, our schools and to build houses for the 50,000 on the housing waiting lists.

But increasing taxes on the rich isn't enough. The Socialist Party is fighting for a socialist society in which working class people would own and democratically run the economy. Then the wealth created could be used for the needs of all not for the profit of a tiny parasitic elite.

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