The Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has accused the Government of showing utter contempt for those who will be hit by cuts contained in the Social Welfare Bill. Deputy Martin was referring to the unprecedented restrictions on the time provided to TDs to examine and debate the Bill that will give effect to a range of cuts outlined in Budget 2014.
“This is complex legislation that will give effect to some of the most serious and controversial cuts in Budget 2014 – cuts affecting young job seekers, working mothers, older people, people with disabilities, mortgage holders and employers. It is disgraceful that the Government has allocated just 9 hours today and tomorrow to debate such a large Bill with so many measures that will be felt in every community across the country next year,” said Deputy Martin.
“The Bill contains 18 sections, each with several measures. Among the measures are the dramatic cut in the job seekers allowance for under 26s, the abolition of Bereavement Grant, the cut in Maternity Benefit, the cut to the Invalidity Pension, the abolition of Mortgage Interest Supplement and the doubling of employers liability for sick pay. The Government is allocating a total of just 30 minutes for all parties to debate each section.
“There is no justification for ramming through this extremely important Bill in a matter of hours, particularly when the Dáil is off next week. The failure to provide adequate time to examine one of the most important pieces of legislation that has come before the House in the lifetime of this Government shows utter contempt for the Dáil and for the people affected by this Bill.
“Far from the ‘democratic revolution’ people were promised, all we have seen from this Government is vigorous attempts to restrict debate at every turn. 63% of legislation has been guillotined to date. It shows a Government that has no interest in transparency and accountability, but is instead preoccupied by protecting itself.”