Cabinet to consider key Attorney General report into State nursing home legal strategy

Increased income and price limits for State-backed home loan scheme for people shut out of the traditional mortgage market also to come before Cabinet on Tuesday

Varadkar Nursing Home

The Cabinet is set to consider a key report by the Attorney General into a contentious State legal strategy on nursing home charges.

Political controversy erupted late last month after the Mail on Sunday newspaper published details of a plan approved by successive governments to defend cases taken by medical card holders who paid for private nursing home care.

After the issue emerged, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly sought advice from the Attorney General as well as a detailed briefing from officials - while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also commissioned a report from the Attorney General for Cabinet to consider today.

Mr Varadkar last week defended the approach as a “sound policy approach and a legitimate legal strategy”, while promising to publish Attorney General Rossa Fanning’s briefing after today’s Cabinet meeting.


He said the matter was “grossly misrepresented”.

He conceded later in the week, however, that there were significant issues in a separate scheme, which saw thousands of vulnerable people in residential care denied maintenance payments they were due, agreeing that the State “didn’t have a leg to stand on” - but insisted this was “different in substance” to the nursing homes issue.

The opposition is likely to revisit its strategy of last week, insisting that both are examples of the State covering up and denying benefits or payments rightfully due to vulnerable citizens.

Home loans

Elsewhere, the cabinet is set to approve increased income and price limits for a State-backed home loan scheme for people shut out of the traditional mortgage market.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will this morning brief cabinet on plans to alter the limits under the Local Authority Home Loan scheme. Income limits for single applicants will rise from between €50,000 and €65,000 to €70,000 nationwide, and for joint applicants, from €75,000 to €85,000 across the country.

There will also be increased house price limits, depending on the local authority area a home is located in. Limits will rise by €40,000 to €360,000 in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, South Dublin, Dublin City, Fingal, Wicklow and Kildare. In Galway City and county, Cork City and county, Louth and Meath, the new limit will be €330,000, up €10,000.

Limerick, Waterford, Clare, Wexford, Westmeath and Kilkenny will see the limit increase by €50,000 to €300,000. All other local authorities will see the price limit rise by €25,000 to €275,000.

Mr O’Brien will also brief cabinet on a planned review of rules governing the construction of wind turbines, bringing a joint memo with Minister for the Environment and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times