Speaking in advance of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2012 Dáil debate tonight, Sinn Féin Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh indicated his party’s position.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said: “Sinn Féin will be opposing the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill which commences debate tonight.
“Less than two years ago, the Fianna Fáil government dropped the cut-off age for lone parent payments to 14 years. Alongside Sinn Féin, the Labour Party objected to this move on the grounds that the necessary supports and services were not in place. That reality has not changed but now a Labour Party Minister is dropping the cut-off age further again to just seven years old. Where do they think these seven year olds will go after school? Out-of-school hours child care provision is practically non-existent.
“We are emerging from a decade of child protection scandals but the government parties have learnt nothing. The government clearly believes that a child doesn’t need parental care and supervision beyond the age of seven.
“When it comes to children, this government are worse than the last. The last government cut it by four years. This government are cutting by seven. In addition this bill follows in the wake of Budget 2012 which was a targeted attack on lone parents. It made cuts to their earnings disregards, payments while on CE and qualified child payments. The cuts to Back to School Allowance, rent supplement and fuel allowance also have a disproportionate impact on the children of lone parents.
“Likewise we are also resolutely opposed to the cut to jobseekers’ benefit contained in the bill. The affected jobseekers have had their hours reduced as a consequence of the recession but the Minister is blaming them for their predicament. She has claimed they are just nervous about entering the world of full-time work despite economists of all colours unanimously agreeing that any growth in full-time job opportunities is a long way off the horizon.”