The Council of State has held a meeting to advise President Mary McAleese on the controversial new health bill.

Almost all members of the council attended - the only absentee was the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey.

President McAleese has until Friday to decide whether to refer the bill to the Supreme Court.

The Health (Amendment) (No 2) Bill would legitimise deduction of money from the pensions and social welfare payments of people in long-term care.

The Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has said the view of her office was that people with medical cards should not be subjected to nursing home charges.