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Gulliver BS: Irish Elders Protest 60s Style (11) RE: BS: Irish Elders Protest 60s Style 24 Oct 08

The 2000 (actually 1800) were out on Tuesday. They had intended meeting at a hotel but there wasn't enough room for the unexpectedly large turn-out, so they got the use of Westland Row church (one of the biggest in Dublin) to hold their meeting. That's when they thrashed the politicians.

On Wednesday there was an estimated 15,000 old folks demonstrating on the streets outside the Dáil (Irish parliament).

The cause of the row was that before the 2002 election, Fianna Fáil (largest party in Ireland) promised the Medical Card to all citizens over 70 years of age, if they got into government. They did get in and the over-70s got their cards, which entitled them to free medical care, among other things.

Then when the new budget was announced last week, one of the cost-cutting measures was to introduce a means test for holders of the Medical Card, which would mean most over-70s would lose their card. And of course it would be almost impossible for them, at their age, to get medical insurance. There was a HUGE outcry against this.

The government caved in under the protests, and have revised their plans (several times), so that now about 90% of over-70s will retain their cards.

However, this move by the coalition government (Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and a solitary Pregressive Democrat) has left a bad taste in the mouths of many people, not least the senior citizens, and will have repercussions on future elections.


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