My mother tells an interesting tale about her personal dealings with that Mother Teresa figure who is now our caring Minister for Social Welfare.
In the late 1990s my mother was suffering from variety of medical complaints, including angina, which required her to pay frequent visits to her GP, probably at least once a month. She was living on a teacher’s widow pension which put her very marginally over the income threshold for a medical card.
The GP knew my mother’s circumstances and was aware that the cost of those visits and prescription costs were a material financial burden.
The GP suggested she should apply for a medical card, to which my mother replied that she was over the income limit and had already made an unsuccessful application.
The GP told her that exceptions could be made and recommended that she visit a local Government TD who could probably pull the necessary strings.
So my mother attended the constituency clinic of local FF TD Mary Hanafin, recently elected in 1997.
My mother explained her medical and financial circumstances and asked if Ms Hanafin could help. She may also have been naïve enough to reveal that she’s a life-long FG supporter, but promised to switch allegiance if the requested help was forthcoming.
Having listened to my mother, Hanafin fixed her with a steely stare and pronounced “there’s nothing wrong with you”.
My mother came home feeling completely humiliated, angry and, of course, empty handed.
A couple of years later, in 2001, the introduction of universal medical cards for the over-70s (a ploy for the upcoming 2002 election) got my mother out of her difficulty and has proved very valuable – she’s had a number of serious medical problems in the interim, including a heart attack a few years back. She’s now on a daily cocktail of 16 tablets and a nitro-patch.
In the interim, her public service widows pension has improved substantially ahead of the rate of inflation, thanks to bench-marking and linkage to annual teacher salary increases etc – so it’s highly unlikely she’ll qualify under the revised regime announced in yesterday’s budget.
So I visited my mother last night and broke the news to her that she’ll probably lose her entitlement to a medical card under the aegis of Social Welfare Minister Mary Hanafin.
“She got you in the end, Ma.” I said.
“They always do.” she replied.
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