Eamon Ryan has the Government does “not have a limitless pot” to spend and that is likely why cases of people being overcharged for nursing home care were settled.
The Irish Mail on Sunday has published claims by a whistleblower that alleged the Department of Health decided to settle with the families involved in order to limit the amount it spent on payments.
Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the issue had been referred to the Attorney-General in order to get the full picture.
“I think it is fair to say that the way it was presented on Sunday … the real picture is a lot more complicated," he said.
"Certainly what I can say; I was never party to devising or agreeing a legal strategy in relation to nursing home charges.”
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, the Green Party leader said that the Government had to be careful with public funds.
“We discussed this at Cabinet the other day and obviously it’s rightly a subject of public debate,” he said.
“There was never an Oireachtas or any Government decision that people who are in private nursing homes that the State would cover all that cost.
“The Oireachtas never agreed that approach - and for good reason.
“We do need as much money as we can to provide for [our other] needs; it’s not as if you’re looking to squirrel it away somewhere for some other nefarious purpose.
“You need money and Government is about priorities and thinking, ‘We have to pay our social welfare and we want to pay our schools and we’ve got to build new hospitals.’
“Part of the job of politics is trying to make money for the whole range of different needs that exist… It’s not a limitless pot, so you do have to make ends meet.”
Minister Ryan said that the State often preferred to settle when sued rather than risk losing in court.
“You never know what way a judge or a court is going to settle,” he said.
“There is that uncertainty and that is part of the strength of our country because we had an independent judiciary.
“It’s not as if there’s an absolute certainty in any court decision and that’s why you take legal advice.”
Main image: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan at Leinster House, 17-12-2022. Image: Sasko Lazorov/RollingNews