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Lenihan punishes the least well off for the sins of the very wealthy – Ó Snodaigh

9 December, 2009 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin TD and Social and family affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has slammed the Finance Minster Brian Lenihan for cutting social welfare and deliberately targeting those on Jobs Seekers Allowance in the budget. Ó Snodaigh described as nonsense the claim that the government was protecting the vulnerable.

Speaking after the budget was announced Mr Ó Snodaigh said:

“Minister Lenihan started off his speech by claiming that the government was protecting the vulnerable. This is nonsense. Those on low and average incomes were deliberately targeted. Funding for disadvantage including educational disadvantage has been severely cut. Funding for drugs taskforces have been cut and fuel poverty will be set to increase following the introduction of the carbon tax. The Minister is punishing the least well off for the sins of the very wealthy.

“Today’s grading of Job Seekers Allowance, discriminating against young people, further compounds the measures taken in the Supplementary Budget 2009 and is an absolute abuse of power by Fianna Fail. The cut of 4.1% in basic social welfare rates will cause huge hardship to families who are struggling to get by. The basic social welfare rate is now less than €200. Sinn Féin was disappointed that the Minister failed to restore the Christmas social welfare payment.

“What Brian Lenihan’s proposal has done is to condemn young people, who have great difficulty finding employment in the current economic climate, to live in poverty. Discriminating against young adults in relation to their welfare entitlements is grossly unfair. It is necessary to frame this in realistic terms, rather than from the ‘top-down budgeting’ perspective.

“Sinn Féin will be opposing the Social Welfare Bill. We will be fighting alongside those affected to stop and reverse cuts to their social welfare entitlements. Fianna Fáil back benchers and those independents who are propping up the Government need to vote down these proposed cuts in social welfare and protect their constituents.” ENDS

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