Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD accused the Tánaiste of delivering a deeply dishonest budget that breaks Labours commitment to protect core social welfare payments.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“Budget 2014 is a deeply dishonest budget. It is littered with broken promises.
“The Programme for Government promised not to cut social welfare rates. Indeed Labour claims that protecting social welfare is one of its main achievements in government. But this week Labour broke that promise.
“Labour has cut jobseekers allowance for young people and the invalidity pension. These are core social welfare payments and Labour has cut them. Labour has broken its promise.
“When Fianna Fáil first cut job seekers for the under 25s in 2009 what was the response of the Labour Party? They said that the cut was ‘offensive’ and intended to ‘promote emigration’.
“Labour accused Fianna Fáil in 2009 of ‘putting the squeeze on young people’ and making them ‘pay for the recession’. Labour has certainly changed its tune and turned its back on the party’s core policies and values.
“Here’s the reality. There are simply not enough training places for young unemployed people. There are 54,000 young people officially out of work. That’s 18,000 more than when Labour took office.
“Official youth unemployment is at 30%. Many thousands more not captured in the official figures. Budget 2014 promised a paltry 4,500 additional places for these young people. Last year Labour promised 10,000 training places, but so far has only delivered 5,500.
“When Fianna Fáil cut young job seekers allowance back in 2009 they also claimed that it would encourage young people to take up training. Labour slammed Fianna Fáil for this decision as there were not enough training places to meet demand. The same is true today.
“This week the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation announced a package of job creation measures. Nowhere in the document does the Minister set out a strategy for getting our young people into decent paid full time employment.
“Budget 2014 is a dishonest budget. Labour has broken a core commitment and is now a cheerleader for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil policy and values.”