Burton promise of childcare a fig leaf - Ó Snodaigh
Sinn Féin spokesperson, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, last night challenged the minister in the Dáil on her claim that she will not proceed with her proposal to reduce the cut-off age for the lone parent payment scheme to seven in the absence of after-school childcare provision. He put it to her that if the claim were genuine she should delete the cut from the bill altogether.
He said "It is not good enough for the minister to state that she will not proceed with this provision if she does not get a credible and bankable commitment from the government on the delivery of such a service. I have seen no sunset clause in the bill because it does not exist. There is nothing to suggest the minister will not proceed with these changes.
"This is a fig leaf for the minister to hide behind for several weeks, just as she has done with the community employment, CE, review which was to be held and finalised in March. It is the same fig leaf that the minister has used in respect of the disability allowance. It is the same fig leaf the minister for Educations and Skills used for the DEIS programme cuts. It serves only to take some of the heat out of the opposition for a few months.
"If the Minister believes the logic of her statement today then she would agree with my proposal to delete these provisions from the bill in their entirety on Committee Stage and wait until the services are in place before proceeding with the changes. There is no point in putting this in place and suggesting that at some stage in future the Minister for Education and Skills will put in place an after-school programme. Such programmes have been promised by every government under the sun. They have promised to look after the needs and provide the supports required for children but it has not happened.
"Unless the minister can guarantee that such supports are in place then she should not proceed with the relevant provisions in any shape or form in this legislation."