“The increases in Social Protection payments that are due to come into effect this week, following on from the increases last year, are a direct result of Fianna Fáil not sitting on its hands when it came to helping ensure a government was formed after the last General Election,” said Fianna Fáil Employment Affairs and Social Protection Spokesperson, Willie O’Dea.

Deputy O’Dea said, “Starting this week, a €5 per week increase in all adult social welfare payments, with pro rata increases across other payments, will be implemented.

“As part of the 2018 Budget negotiations, I and my party pushed for, and secured increases, in social welfare rates. As a party we are determined to improve the situation of those on low and fixed incomes. While not excessive, a €5 increase in weekly rates is a step in the right direction.

“Budgets 2017 and 2018 are the first progressive ones since Fine Gael took up office in 2011. That is a direct result of Fianna Fáil being involved, albeit from the opposition benches.

“It’s essential that as the economy improves those who bore the brunt of some of the most punitive cuts introduced by Fine Gael and Labour during the last Government are not forgotten or side-lined.  Indeed, this is essential given that poverty and deprivation in Ireland remains prevalent in Ireland, particularly amongst children and lone parent households.

“There is no escaping the fact that Fine Gael have been in Government for seven years now. With 1 in 9 children (11.1%) in consistent poverty and 25.2% of all children experiencing deprivation, Fine Gael’s record leaves a lot to be desired.

“Facilitating a Fine Gael minority government was a difficult ask for me and for my fellow Fianna Fáil TDs. However, it is results like this – tangible, positive outcomes that have been championed by Fianna Fáil since the Confidence and Supply Arrangement that prove that we were right not to sit on our hands.

“Too many people in Irish politics talk a good game about delivering for their constituents. All too often, they are, however, consumed by their blind partisanship, and are unable to do anything because hard decisions are beyond them.

“While the €5 increase is welcome but we are under no illusions more needs to be done to address the chronic poverty and social exclusion in Ireland’” concluded O’Dea.