The Supreme Court is due to consider the constitutionality of the Health (Amendment) Bill next Monday and Tuesday.

The court has fixed 24 and 25 January to consider the legislation, which gives the Government retrospective power to charge residents of state care institutions by deducting up to 80% of their pensions.

The court had been asked by President Mary McAleese to test the constitutionality of the legislation under her powers under Article 26 of the Constitution.

It is the first referral of legislation by Mrs McAleese during her second term as President and it is the first time she has referred an entire Bill to the Supreme Court.