Here we go again

Oh dear, we got caught out there a little bit, didn’t we! In a typical case of ‘admit to all your mistakes while everyone has their backs turned’, a little gem has been brushed under the carpet.

Those pesky little Ministers can be so sneaky. We’re all so busy totting up how much we won’t be getting paid next week on the pre- versus post-Budget calculators that are doing the rounds, that we’re not really keeping an eye on things.

I’m loving the latest from the HSE. You heard the news, right? That we owe the British government a few quid? It’s a classic case of a little money between friends, well sort of!

According to Mary H, we’ve allowed the British government to overpay hundreds of millions of euro to the Irish health service. Go figure! Aren’t we very honest?!

The money had been handed over as part of a long-standing arrangment to fund treatment for around 50,000 pensioners who worked in the UK.

According to the Conservative Party in the UK, the payment process is so “shambolic” that up to €200m (£180m ) a year too much has been paid out. Us, have a shambolic payment process? Nah! The HSE a shambles? Surely not!

The issue started back last December when Mary H made some comments in the Dail. Of course no one was really listening. But seemingly she said the UK government “reckoned they had paid us €150m more than they should have” in 2007, and wanted the cash back. Are you surprised Mary? Thought you had got away with that one, did you?

And guess how much we have to pay back? How does €2bn sound? Because our economy is doing just fine, €2bn is pocket change to us!

Mary H has predicted that the payment level - which is based on national insurance contributions - would go down to €250m a year from now on.

The Conservative Party is looking for an inquiry into the matter, insisting that Ministers were trying to hide the problem. Meanwhile the British Department of Health has insisted the governments are in talks over the little issue.

Oh I’m sure it will all be sorted out. A hike in PRSI anyone?

Increase in the levy?

Oh wait, that was last week.

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