Oireachtas News

In debates in the Oireachtas, Minister of State, Alan Kelly outlined options available to the self-employed while Independent T.D. Mattie McGrath, speaking on a health bill, stated that it was time for GPs to “pony up” when dealing with people who needlessly visit their surgeries daily.

In debates in the Oireachtas, Minister of State, Alan Kelly outlined options available to the self-employed while Independent T.D. Mattie McGrath, speaking on a health bill, stated that it was time for GPs to “pony up” when dealing with people who needlessly visit their surgeries daily.

Options open to the self-employed who find themselves out of work were outlined to the Dail by Minister of State Alan Kelly.

He was replying to Limerick Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan who said the Society of St. Vincent de Paul had identified the self-employed as being the new poor. When self-employed, people who have made substantial contributions by way of taxes and PRSI - both for themselves and, more importantly, for their employees - present themselves at a social welfare office when times get tough, there is absolutely nothing available for them, he said

Speaking on a Topical Issue, he said their businesses have evaporated and collapsed in a heap thanks in no small way to the mismanagement of the economy for a number of years by the previous administration, leading to the collapse of the construction industry.

“The vast majority of people who are being left in a limbo situation are those who were self-employed and either directly involved in the construction industry or those connected to the retail sector who have seen their businesses collapse in the economic meltdown that this Government is now trying to get the country out of,” he said.

In reply, Minister of State Alan Kelly said self-employed persons are liable for PRSI at the class S rate of 4%, which entitles them to access long-term benefits such as State pension, contributory, and widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pension, contributory.

“In 2011 the Minister for Social Protection established the advisory group on tax and social welfare to meet the commitment made in the programme for Government,” he said. “The advisory group is charged with, among other issues, examining and reporting on issues involved in providing social insurance cover for self-employed persons to establish whether such cover is technically feasible and financially sustainable. The advisory group’s overall method of working is based on producing modular reports on the priority areas identified in the terms of reference. Where possible, the aim is to provide recommendations that can be acted upon in time for the annual budget, Estimates and legislative cycle and to allow the Government to best address its commitments under the EU-IMF programme of financial support. The group has been considering the issue of social insurance coverage for the self-employed and will submit its report once its examination of the various questions has been completed.”

McGrath calls on GPs to act responsibly

Time for GPs to “pony up” - McGrath

Speaking on a Health Bill, Independent T.D., Mattie McGrath said he knows people who go to Mass in the morning, call to their GP, go to the chemist, buy their few groceries and then go home.

“It is a type of social event,” he said. “That is happening. They are lonely and isolated people. The doctors should tell them to call once a fortnight or once a month, unless they are sick. I have seen this happening. We all do when we are out canvassing. We call to the health centres and see what happens. I am not saying those people are doing anything wrong. They are entitled to do that, but what if they had to pay for it?”

That is happening. They are lonely and isolated people. The doctors should tell them to call once a fortnight or once a month, unless they are sick. I have seen this happening. We all do when we are out canvassing. We call to the health centres and see what happens. I am not saying those people are doing anything wrong. They are entitled to do that, but what if they had to pay for it?”

Deputy McGrath said he had often rung on a Monday morning about a child who had been sick since Saturday or Sunday night only to be told to come in on the Tuesday morning at ten o’clock.

“In the meantime, one has a screaming child. That is the other aspect of this, when the doctor’s office is full of people who do not need to be there. The GPs have a big role to play in this. With the roll-out of special centres for medical care, we will have to deal with this issue because it is unacceptable.”

He added that had often been brought into a kitchen or parlour where press after press, even cabinets for good delph and china, were full of tablets.

“The tablets have been hoarded, unused, which is quite dangerous. They should have been returned to the GP for charities or to be sent abroad if they are still safe for use. They are dished out by the chemists when the Government is paying for them. We must examine this very carefully. We must be responsible about it but we must deal with it effectively. I am disappointed, as is always the case with the Department of Health and the HSE, that there is very poor consultation with the stakeholders.”