The decision to cut maternity benefit shows that the Minister for Children has no real leverage at the cabinet table says Robert Troy.
Deputy Troy commented, “This cut comes less than a week after Minister Fitzgerald published the report of the Expert Advisory Group on the Early Years strategy which recommended an extension of maternity leave from six months to one year. Minister Fitzgerald told us she welcomed it, she was personally in favour of it and she would fight for it in government.
“Today new mothers can see the value of Minister Fitzgerald’s promises to fight for them, as the Government cuts maternity benefit. This cut comes on top of last year’s decision to tax the benefit.
“This is a cut that takes €30 million away from new mothers and the €4.5 million announced for pre-school measures today is minuscule and insulting by comparison It is absolutely astonishing that Minister Fitzgerald has acquiesced in this cut. While it is not under the remit of her Department it illustrates how the children’s agenda has been completely sidelined at Cabinet.
“The Government’s approach to families and children is clearly dysfunctional and one would really have to question the role of the Minister for Children when cuts like this, which drive a coach and horses through her own Early Years strategy, are part of the Government’s claim to be ‘helping hard pressed families”.