Fianna Fáil is calling on the Government to keep its own promises to protect social welfare rates and to maintain social welfare spending at current levels. A Fianna Fáil Private Members Motion to be debated in the Dáil today (Wednesday) will give Fine Gael and Labour Deputies the opportunity to clarify their intentions regarding the social welfare budget for next year.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen commented, “The Government appear to be totally confused about its plans for the social welfare budget next year, despite Fine Gael and Labour’s loud and unequivocal promises to voters during the general election campaign that they would not cut social welfare payments or reduce social welfare spending.
“These promises on social welfare were repeated in the Programme for Government and by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore since taking up office, and again during a press conference on the Government’s first 100 days in office. They were repeated again as recently as during the by-election campaign in Dublin West, with Labour Party candidate Patrick Nulty vowing to ensure that social welfare rates are protected. Meanwhile, the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has refused repeatedly to make any commitments to protecting social welfare rates and in fact has made several attempts to soften the ground for a major u-turn on these promises. The Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has also refused to be drawn on what is coming down the line.
“All of this flip-flopping must stop. It is causing great distress to families who are dependent on social welfare payments and are seriously concerned about how they will cope next year. The Fianna Fáil motion simply asks the Government to do what they promised to do, and maintain the headline social welfare rates next year. We are also calling on the Government to introduce a means by which self-employed people can be insured against unemployment and sickness.”