Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea, says he is shocked at the €685 million supplementary estimate in the Department of Social Welfare, which he says shows an alarming degree of mismanagement by Minister Joan Burton. He also criticised cynicism of releasing the information on the morning of the budget.

“Here we are on Budget day and we are told hours before the Minister for Finance addresses the Dáil that there is an overrun in the Social Protection budget of nearly €700 million euro. This is an extraordinary amount by any standards; the Health overrun was €300 million and has been described as a crisis.

“We have already seen huge cuts in people receiving the DCA, the Disability Allowance and the Carers’ Allowance this year and I shudder to think what would have happened if the supplementary budget wasn’t agreed.

“This now raises serious questions of Minister Burton’s ability to manage her brief. Such a colossal overspend leaves me hugely concerned at what lies in store next year. Obviously the projections on employment levels were way off the mark and it proves the various jobs initiatives announced by the Government, with much fanfare, just has not worked.

“The attempt to slip this under the radar on the morning of Budget Day is deeply cynical. The Minister needs to outline what exactly went wrong in her Department and put forward credible solutions to address the issues next year.”