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Doherty challenges Minister on Christmas Bonus payment

25 November, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty today secured a Seanad debate with the Minister for Social and Family Affairs on the need for the Minister to reverse the decision to abolish the Christmas bonus.

Speaking from the Seanad this evening Senator Pearse Doherty said this cruel and scrooge-like move will drive struggling families into the hands of money-lenders and will be disastrous for local economies.

He said:

“Thousands of families rely on this much needed bonus to cover extra expenses which occur at this costly time of year and will result in parents turning to money lenders, inevitably compounding existing family money problems and forcing them into further catastrophic debt in the New Year.

“This scrooge-like move will deny a lot of children a Christmas. The fact that the Government can seek to cut money from those on just €204 a week while seeking to protect those on over €200,000 a year is reprehensible.

“This cut will also see huge pressure being put on parents who have lost their jobs and are living from hand to mouth. This will drive many into the hands of money lenders – both legal and illegal and will have serious repercussions and will send families spiralling into whirlwinds of debt.

“This will also cause hardship for those pensioners already struggling to make ends meet. Last year many older people used the bonus to pay for fuel, rather than buy Christmas presents for their grandchildren or to meet their other festive costs. The bonus helped older people get through one of the coldest winters in recent years.

“As well as the hardship it will mean for those directly affected, the axing of the Christmas Bonus makes no economic sense. It will result in millions of euros being taken out of local economies putting jobs at further risk.

“Many of the people who will be affected by the removal of the Christmas bonus are as yet not aware of the fact. The people affected don’t have savings to cope with this unexpected reduction in their income – unlike the golden circle that this government panders to; the people affected by this cut don’t have nest eggs tucked away or overseas bank accounts that they can turn to.

“We in Sinn Féin have been running a campaign against the withdrawal of the Christmas Bonus over the past number of weeks and have highlighted inside and outside the Dáil how this callous move will affect the most vulnerable.

“Mary Hanafin on one hand blames striking public sector workers for delays in making payments while on the other hand it is her very own colleagues in government axing completely the Christmas Bonus.

“This is a cruel cut which will deny children a Christmas and will mean extra hardship for struggling families. It must be reversed”. ENDS

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