Seanad debates

Friday, 16 July 2021

Nursing Homes Support Scheme (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages

 

9:30 am

Photo of Alice-Mary HigginsAlice-Mary Higgins (Independent)

We will engage on adult safeguarding in the autumn, an issue that needs to be progressed. As well as the review and the body of evidence, we will need legislation on that. Financial abuse is highlighted in the amendment because it is setting in place a different financial mechanism for successors and capping. Safeguarding with nursing homes, as was mentioned, is a key issue, as is capacity. I am glad the Minister of State is engaged and has a personal passion for those areas.

The issue of financial abuse is a little wider because it is not simply about capacity; it is also about issues such as coercion that are not about capacity but the particular vulnerabilities in households, and some of my later amendments will come to that. It may be about the person being pressed to name somebody as his or her successor, or a spouse or a sibling who finds himself or herself in financially vulnerable circumstances and subject to exploitation. There is an entire area of financial abuse where people might well have capacity but not the independence, and they may be vulnerable in those other senses. That is why there is a general reference to other kinds of abuse. Financial abuse is an important part, given that, unfortunately, finances can be used as a tool of coercion and control, and that is why it needs to be highlighted.

Overall, this is a progressive Bill. It will allow farms and businesses to pass on. Nevertheless, a wealth of literature in Ireland tells us how fraught that can be, and how there can be casualties if we do not pay attention. Seamus Heaney wrote about the local wars in that regard and how important they can be. It is an area about which we need to be very careful because hurt can be caused. I understand that the Minister of State might not be able to accept the amendment, and in any event the Dáil has adjourned for the summer, so the Bill cannot be further amended for now, but I hope we can engage in respect of safeguarding and the wider area of financial abuse.It is important groundwork. I thank the Minister of State for her engagement on this, although I know she cannot accept the amendment.

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