Speaking as the Seanad debate the cuts to Social Welfare payments today Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has called on fellow Donegal Senators Brian Ó Domhnaill and Cecilia Keaveney to oppose the bill.
Senator Doherty insisted that social welfare rates did not need to be cut in the budget and castigated the Government for not targeting top earners for more tax.
Senator Doherty said:
“A decision by both Senator Ó Domhnaill and Keavney would mean that these cuts to social welfare could not come into affect. However supporting this legislation will cut social welfare payments to over 20,000 Donegal people who are currently unemployed and depend on their weekly €200 to get by. It also reduces child benefit by €16 per month which is paid to over 41,000 children in Donegal.
“I am calling on Senators Ó Domhnaill and Keavney to put their county before their party and protect Donegal social welfare recipients by rejecting this Bill this evening.
“This is a disgusting piece of legislation which will see the most vulnerable people in our society plunged further and further into poverty while those at the top; those who along with their friends the bankers, the speculators, the Roddy Molloys, the Seanie Fitzpatricks and the developers own Fianna Fáil; those who have brought this economy to the brink of collapse remain happy and comfortable in the knowledge that this despicable government has their best interest at heart.
“They tell us this is for the good of the country that the cuts are minimal and with the cost of living down that those on social welfare won’t really feel the affects of these cuts. I say this is complete and utter nonsense.
“Perhaps the Minister should say this to the 23 year old university graduate, out of a job and now living on €150 a week. Tell this to the single mother who has to tell her kids that Christmas is cancelled this year. Tell this to the disabled, the unemployed, the carers. The low paid workers in both public and private sectors, the families, the young couples struggling with massive mortgages to pay.
“Social welfare did not need to be touched. There were many measures the government could have taken to raise money to reduce the deficit – a third tax rate, abolishing the PRSI ceiling, abolishing the tax breaks abused by high earners, establish a wealth tax, stop putting public money into private healthcare. The government took the option that offered the least electoral pain.
“My party came up with alternative strategies Minister and you ignored them.” ENDS