Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD has said that while Budget 2018 is far from perfect and contains only modest gains for those on low and fixed incomes, Fianna Fáil has, through its influence and determination to create a fairer Ireland, ensured that it is at least a step in the right direction.

Speaking following the Budget 2018 announcement, Deputy O’Dea said: “Fianna Fáil has worked very hard to ensure that Fine Gael honour the commitments that we secured in the Confidence and Supply Arrangement.

“We are proud to have once again secured a €5 per week increase in the State Pension. This is the second year in a row that Fianna Fáil has secured such an increased resulting in State Pensions rising by a total of €10.

“These increases and the securing of a €5 increase in all other welfare payments are core priorities for Fianna Fáil.

“Additional funding for the Free Travel Scheme and an increase by one week in the Fuel Allowance payment is a positive step in direction.

“Fianna Fáil is also particularly glad to have secured a modest increase in the Qualified Child payment which was last increased in 2010 when Fianna Fáil was in Government.

“This was a key priority for us in Budget 2018. The €20 increase in the income disregard for those in receipt of the One Parent Family Payment is needed and welcome.

“However, despite these welcome initiatives we cannot ignore the findings of an independent review published yesterday on the impact of changes to the One Parent Family Scheme which found that the balance of evidence indicates there is an increased probability of being at risk of poverty for lone parents as a result of the changes introduced by Fine Gael during the previous Government.

“The reality is that Fine Gael has not had a conversion to fairness nor is protecting the most vulnerable one of its core beliefs.

“We cannot escape the reality that tonight 3,000 children will be sleeping in emergency accommodation or that 25% of the population are experiencing deprivation.

“Neither can we ignore the glaring reality that there are thousands of women still not in receipt of their full pension. This is something that must be addressed as a priority.

“Today’s gains, whilst welcome, are modest for those on the lowest incomes, but undoubtedly without Fianna Fáil’s influence today’s budget would be not balanced in their favour,” concluded O’Dea.