Prioritising children’s rights essential in budget – Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald TD, has called for the prioritisation of children’s rights in the budget. Mary Lou McDonald was speaking at the launch of her party’s alternative budget ‘Making the right choices’. She said the government had talked the talk about children’s rights during the referendum campaign but now they had to walk the walk with their budget decisions.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“We know that this state is still carrying a deficit, mostly caused by this and the last government’s failure to grasp the necessity for a stimulus and growth friendly budgetary measures. That deficit must be reduced and Sinn Féin believes it can be reduced by €3.5 billion next year. However, the sustained appalling economic policies of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are taking their toll on families the length and breadth of this state. This budget has to be about more than just deficit reduction. It has to be about improving people’s lives.
“Throughout the recent referendum campaign, the government talked a good talk on children’s rights. Now we need to see them walk the walk. Children and their families have been hit badly by successive cuts to education, health and welfare services. They government has them in their sights again this year with disturbing speculation of cuts as high as €40 per child in Child Benefit.
“There is not a single child in this state who is responsible for the crisis that we are in and it is unconscionable to continue to target them. We have set out new expenditure proposals and changes to policy in our alternative budget that will start to protect this vulnerable section in our society and take the pressure somewhat from their struggling parents. These include:
•Protecting Child Benefit
•Protecting the public health and education budgets
•Providing for free school books for children and the expansion of the free school meals scheme
•An increase in the One Parent employment threshold
•An increase in the fuel allowance
•Protecting social welfare payments
“We’ve shown that the deficit can be reduced and money sourced to pay for these measures and I would urge the government to take these proposals on board to prove that they understand the true meaning of the word rights.” ENDS