Mansergh and Morgan clash over private hospitals


DÁIL REPORT:THE REPUBLIC was described as "this little semi-statelet" by Sinn Féin finance spokesman Arthur Morgan when he condemned a Government proposal to give tax breaks for the development of private hospices.

Mr Morgan, who represents Louth, said he did not want families going into debt for palliative care.

"If it is needed, it should be paid for out of the public purse by the taxpayers who, I believe, would be happy to do so to ensure those people most in need of that care can get it in their last days on this earth.

"I believe they are entitled to it and what the Tánaiste is proposing is an absolute scandal.

"Why should I expect any different from a Tánaiste and a Government over this partial-parliament in this little semi-statelet over which he is presiding?"

He claimed there was more social conscience "in a cat's arse" than there was in the entire Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

"They might not have robbed banks, but they robbed the people and gave the bank owners the people's money."

Mr Morgan was rounded on by Fianna Fáil backbenchers Dr Martin Mansergh (Tipperary South) and Michael Finneran (Roscommon-South Leitrim), who strongly backed the proposal.

Dr Mansergh said: "Very crude criticisms were made of the Government's economic policy by a party which does not have any coherent economic policy that I am aware of. I was shocked, although not surprised, to hear any deputy refer to this as a 'partial parliament in a semi-statelet'."

Dr Mansergh said he always had great difficulty understanding "so-called republicans" who did not recognise the Republic.

"It throws into context the party in question presenting itself as the champion of sovereignty and democracy when it is clear that the deputy opposite does not recognise the sovereignty of either this State or its people.

"The EU, in the past 35 years, has had much more respect for sovereignty and democracy in this country than the party opposite."

Mr Finneran said: "Regarding the outburst and breaking into sweat by Deputy Morgan, if it was not for him and his fellow travellers we would have had considerably more money to invest in many projects over the years instead of needing to spend it on security to protect the State."

The proposal was introduced by Tánaiste and Minister for Finance Brian Cowen by way of an amendment to the Finance Bill.

Mr Morgan said it was a mystery to him why people had not seen through Fianna Fáil long before now.

"Long may the deputy suffer under that inhibition," said Mr Cowen. Mr Cowen said that the motivation behind the proposal was quite upfront and in keeping with the views of the hospice managers' association.

"In no way is there any other motivation behind this other than to try to achieve it in the manner which, although not quite the same, was applied in private nursing home bed provision," said Mr Cowen.

Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Bruton said while he welcomed the proposal in principle, he did not believe it was appropriate that only 20 per cent would be public patients while 80 per cent would be private.

Labour spokeswoman Joan Burton said they were rushing in yet another amendment to a health policy dictated by the PDs.