The leader of the Labour Party has described a report by the Attorney General on legal advice to the Government on nursing home fees as "disappointing".

The Attorney General concluded legal advice provided to the Government was "sound, accurate and appropriate".

Rossa Fanning SC also found that there was no positive legal duty to make retrospective payments on the Disabled Persons Maintenance Allowance.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Labour leader Ivana Bacik said she believes the report misses an overall pattern "whereby individuals who were denied their legal rights were then forced to sue through the courts in order to vindicate those rights".

She said this meant that those who could go through the courts could continue their cases and they were settled before the hearing, but those without the resources could not.

Ms Bacik said that the Attorney General failed to identify that pattern in the State’s litigation strategy.

She said the report states that there was a "real and viable defence" and that it was "prudent" to settle some of the cases, but this is not explained by the Attorney General.

"If there was a defence there, of course the State is entitled to defend the case then, so why didn't it do so?" she said.

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She said the Minister for Health should go back and look again in more detail at those cases to see where the balance should have been drawn.

"It appears to all of us in Opposition, and indeed to all of those involved in providing services and to those who need the services, that the balance was drawn far too narrowly in the interests of the Government of the day," Ms Bacik added.

She called for reform of the Attorney General’s Office and said it should provide guidance on ethical responsibilities and not just on the "narrow legal responsibility" of the Government.

She said a redress scheme should be set up for those people affected.

"The Attorney General conflates a narrow interest of the Government with what is in the public interest, and that's not always the case," she said.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy has said it was "not surprising" that the Attorney General mounted a strenuous defence of his own office regarding the controversy over nursing home fees.

Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil, she claimed it was an "incredibly blinkered" document in which "cost containment is repeatedly conflated with the public interest".

Ms Murphy said the report basically said that "... screwing over vulnerable citizens in legally sound".

She said it appeared that the State had "less of a moral compass" than banks.

In reply, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the Ministers for Health and Public Expenditure would not just consider the Attorney General's report over the next three months but also examine documents going back to the 1970s as well as deliberations from the relevant Joint Oireachtas Committee.

He said the partially leaked memo, which sparked the controversy, did not reveal the true complexity behind all of this.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that there were different legislative approaches to Disabled Persons Maintenance Allowance in 1983 to 1996; from 1996 to 99; and then from 1999 to 2007.

He said that it goes to prove things were "more complex" than might have been first thought.

Additional reporting Paul Cunningham