[Sinn Fein]

25th February 2003

Ó Caoláin welcomes end of protracted dental dispute

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Health and Children, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD today gave a guarded welcome to the end of the long running dispute between the Irish Dental Association (IDA) and the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``This dispute should not have been allowed to run on as long as it did. It is regrettable that its resolution involves an increase in costs for basic dental services for those PRSI workers who were denied their entitlements for the duration of the dispute.

``These increases will come as another blow to those low paid workers whom this government has already hurt when it reneged on its promise to extend medical card eligibility. Workers should have access to full dental services for which they are paying their PRSI contributions.

``Rather than imposing increased charges on PRSI workers accessing dental services, the Government, if it had any genuine interest in promoting public health, would be doing more to increase equality of access to medical and dental services.''

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