Yesterday, the Government announced cutbacks of €440 million in public services. At the press conference, neither the Taoiseach nor the Minister for Finance would give any breakdown of these cutbacks. We now know why. They were ashamed to set them out. The figures produced by the Government show that one third of the cutbacks — that is €1 in every €3 because of the Government's economic mismanagement — will come from the health budget. Specifically, they will come from moneys set aside to assist thousands of families in catering for elderly family members in nursing homes. What the Government has done is sacrilegious.
The promises made to help families with the high cost of nursing home care have been abandoned. The Taoiseach and the Minister for Health and Children will claim this matter concerns legislation and legal difficulties. The elderly and their families who need this assistance cannot afford to put legislation on hold because of legal difficulties in the same way as the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health and Children can. They cannot afford to put their lives on hold because they need immediate attention. Families must make decisions to sell family homes to meet the costs of nursing home care. The sop of the €12 million allocated for nursing home subventions is only to salve the Taoiseach's conscience.
Thousands on the streets may not understand all the details of the consequences of Fianna Fáil's economic mismanagement. However, they know for sure the Government is taking money away from the health budget, particularly the €110 million earmarked for the care and assistance of elderly people in nursing homes. Before this blows up in the Taoiseach's face, will he not see the value of increasing nursing home subventions, as Deputy Reilly has pointed out on so many occasions? Will he not leave the moneys for the purpose for which they were allocated under a policy decision?
The €110 million earmarked for elderly people and their nursing home care is abandoned. A sop has been given out of it with the rest going back into the maw of a heartless Exchequer. Will the Taoiseach show some sense of humanity in this matter? Will he put the moneys into nursing home subventions for those who require them? What he has done is heartless, sacrilegious and he must reverse the decision.