Deputy Mattie McGrath
Members of the Rural Independent Group have expressed their delight after they achieved a successful Dáil vote this Thursday, June 1, on the motion they brought forward calling for immediate reform of the Fair Deal Nursing Home Support Scheme.
The motion, which was carried by 51 votes to 48, represents a highly significant loss for the Government and will place increased pressure on it to urgently review the Fair Deal Scheme in line with the submissions made by various farming and self-employed organisations as well as Nursing Home Ireland.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath said after the the motion was passed: "Today’s vote on our motion is enormously significant not only for the farming families and self-employed who have been discriminated against due to the existing terms of the scheme, but also because it is the first time that the Government has been defeated despite the Fianna Fail party abstaining on the vote.
"This demonstrates that the motion we placed before the House represented a clear pathway toward fundamental reform of the Fair Deal Scheme in line with a more just and equitable assessment method.
The Tipperary TD said that farming families and the self-employed can now be absolutely assured that the Dáil had mandated for a greater degree of certainty and clarity to be introduced with respect to a reduced charge on the farm / business assets which protects the future viability of the farm/business asset for future generations.
The vote was also welcomed by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association, chair of rural development Seamus Sherlock.
"My experience is that many farmers are suffering alone and in silence as committing to the Fair Deal scheme could eventually lead to the sale of their farm to pay for nursing home fees. This is simply too high a price to contemplate in the eyes of many farmers. In reality these men and women are putting the viability of future farming generations before their own well-being. It is the position of ICSA that this is a decision neither our ageing farmers nor their families should be forced to make.
"ICSA believes that the three year cap on assessing assets that applies to family homes should also apply to farms. We also support reducing the time an asset needs to be transferred prior to entering a nursing home from five to three years. ICSA believe that reform of the Fair Deal Scheme has been long fingered for too long and we want action now. The Fair Deal needs to be fair for everyone," he said.