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McDonald challenges Taoiseach on proposed social welfare cuts

12 October, 2011

Following reports in the media today that the government intends to cut social welfare by €1 billion, Sinn Féin public expenditure and reform spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald challenged the Taoiseach in the Dáil to reaffirm his pre-election promise not to cut social welfare.

Speaking in the Dáil Deputy McDonald said:

“Following today’s reports in the media of significant cuts to social welfare, the Taoiseach must address the issue of proposed cuts to rent supplement which keeps a roof over 95,000 households.

“The local authority housing stock is woefully inadequate and any cut to rent supplement would cause huge difficulty and suffering to people who are also struggling.

“The Government is keen to talk about social welfare fraud. What they mean is irregular payments, including departmental error. The Taoiseach might look at the extravagant salaries paid to special advisers which are sanctioned by the government and are in breach of its own caps. One special adviser to the Minister for Social Protection is in receipt of a salary of €127,796.

“In the absence of the published comprehensive spending review and with the Taoiseach refusing to give any affirmation to the House that he will not cut welfare, all we are left with conjecture.

“No one wishes to see any social welfare payment scammed, as the Taoiseach puts it. Equally, no one should cast aspersions on welfare recipients by constantly using the term ‘fraud’ when the correct term is "irregular payments" or in layman’s terms departmental error.

“The fact remains there is largesse for the Minister's adviser and cuts to very meagre social welfare payments. No one in the Oireachtas is living on the basic social welfare payment of €188 per week. That is reality, from which the Taoiseach seems sadly divorced.”

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