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Multiple state pensions for Ministers yet low income family Child Benefit slashed – its time to get this government out

5 May, 2009

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald MEP has this afternoon described Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s decision to cut Child Benefit payments across the board as ' another shameful attack on families’. Ms. McDonald added, “It is time to stop the madness. Fianna Fáil and the Green’s cannot be allowed to make struggling families pay the heaviest price for government mistakes. Mary Hanafin, the Minister who will oversee the cuts in Child Benefit, will on retirement benefit from three state pensions. Surely the irony of this will not be lost on her and her cabinet colleagues?”

Speaking from Strasbourg the Sinn Fein Deputy Leader said:

“Child Benefit is not simply some sort of bonus payment from the state. It is a critical source of income that many hundreds of thousands of families rely on for the most basic of childcare needs.

“Low income families are already shouldering the heaviest burden of the governments emergency budget. Workers on an annual salary of just €15,028 have been slapped with a 2% income levy.  Struggling families have seen their mortgage interest relief withdrawn and the early childcare supplement abolished by the year-end. Now it is reducing all child benefit payments to the tune of €55 for a family of three. It is worth reminding ourselves that 32% of workers in this state earn €18,300 a year or less. How much more punishment does this government intend to inflict on families for its mistakes?

“It is galling that the Minister who will oversee the Child Benefit cuts, Mary Hanafin, is one of the government cabinet who will benefit for from three state pensions when she retires. How is this ‘fairly’ sharing the burden of Fianna Fáil’s recession?  Sinn Féin in our emergency budget submission called for a cap on all TDs salaries at €80,000 per year. We have also called for an end to Oireachtas and European parliamentary members collecting multiple pensions from Ireland’s public purse. State childcare provision is in disarray. The government has withdrawn financial supports and there is confusion from all quarters on how it intends to deliver on its promise to provide on 15 hrs care per week for young children.

“As the economy collapses around our ears Fianna Fáil and the Green’s level the charge at opposition parties that we have no solutions. Well, Sinn Féin have plenty of solutions.  The government just refuses to listen.  They choose instead to protect and serve their developer and banker cronies. “My message to the Irish people today is a straightforward one. Stand up for yourself; stand up for each other.  It’s time to get this rotten government out. June 5th is an opportunity for the people to signal the beginning of the end for Fianna Fáil and the Green’s. We deserve better.” ENDS

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