Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD has said that five years of regressive budgets have been stopped, and that the process of returning fairness to the centre of policymaking has been restored to the social welfare system because of Fianna Fáil’s influence in Budget 2017.

“The last five years of Fine Gael-led government have been tragic for vulnerable families and communities. We saw little from them in terms of a commitment to fairness and equality. In fact, those concepts are alien to Fine Gael, and their right wing friends,” said O’Dea.

“Today, Fianna Fáil has forced Fine Gael to draw a line in the sand on its regressive budgetary policies. Without the influence of Fianna Fáil, in opposition, Fine Gael would have been free to continue with their right wing agenda when it comes to social welfare.”

‘Along with my Fianna Fáil colleagues, I worked hard to secure a fairer deal for welfare recipients and while we did not get everything we wanted we did make some vital gains. I welcome the €5 per week increase in the State pension, which Fianna Fáil stipulated in the Confidence and Supply arrangement, and also the increase in other welfare payments’.

‘However, this Budget is only the first step in creating a society where everyone, and not just the privileged few, has a place. There is work still do be done.”

“Poverty and deprivation rates in Ireland are still appalling; one in nine or 134,000 children are in consistent poverty, whilst almost 59% of one parent households are experiencing deprivation.

“This Budget failed to address many of the issues facing lone parents and only offered a meagre increase to young jobseekers. It also failed to address the anomaly in calculating the contributory pension which disadvantages women in particular who spent time out of the workforce caring for children or elderly relatives.”

“We have a long road ahead of us to achieving a fairer, more equitable society. Unlike the angry populists on the hard left, Fianna Fáil will never shirk its responsibilities to marginalised people, and communities, across our country who need a strong voice for fairness in politics,” concluded O’Dea.