The full text of the speech delivered by Sinn Féin Social Protection Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh to the Ard Fheis in Wexford
The Labour Party and Fine Gael would swear that black is white and certain journalists would report it as fact. This has very much been the case when it comes to reporting on Minister Joan Burton’s protection of, or assault on, social welfare rates.
The minister and the government continue to say that they haven’t cut core weekly welfare payments. This is a blatant lie. Just because they say something 100 times doesn’t make it any less of a lie.
Ask the young jobseekers who’s allowances are €44 lower
What is that if not a core rate cut?
What of the 65 year olds who can no longer work due to disability who are down €36.80 a week? Or Ask the families who’s Children’s Allowance has been slashed under Minister Burton’s watch.
Ask those who were dependent on a annual respite care grant to pay some of their households bills – what is that if not a core rate cut? Or those who are dependent on Fuel Allowance to heat their homes who have seen a cut of €120 a year.
Social Welfare rates have been cut. That is a fact and all the blather by this government cannot hide that fact from those who have borne the brunt of those cuts.
Shame on the Labour Party in particular who have followed Fianna Fáil’s targeting of young jobseekers and other with their Social Welfare cuts in the last government..
So we have had a consensus of sorts, Fianna Fáil and Labour have been targeting the most vulnerable in society for their cuts.
The government’s most recent Budget also cut social insurance benefits including maternity, illness, invalidity pension and bereavement benefits with a view to saving €74 million. These are people’s hard earned benefits. They are cuts to core rates.
These cuts are entirely avoidable. The government could instead shore up the Social Insurance Fund with a small increase in contributions from those employers that can afford to pay more. Sinn Féin’s proposal to introduce a new employer’s rate of PRSI of 15.75% on wages in excess of €100,000 would raise €119.1 million.
By cutting Maternity Benefit and abolishing the Bereavement Grant this government is literally picking pockets from cradle to grave.