Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, Willie O’Dea TD, says he is hugely concerned at the level of pressure that was placed on Labour Senators by the Labour Party hierarchy to vote through the controversial Social Welfare Bill.

Reports this week suggested that Minister Joan Burton warned Labour Party Senators that any delay to the Social Welfare Bill could result in €124 million of extra cuts in her budget.

“I found this campaign very threatening in its manner,” said Deputy O’Dea.

“This was a hugely unfair budget that targeted families and those with disabilities. I can understand how Labour Senators would have significant reservations about certain aspects of the bill. The cut to Child Benefit and the callous attack on the Respite Care Grant have dismayed people throughout the country.

“If the only reason these Senators voted for the Social Welfare Bill is because of the threat of more cuts, people across the country will marvel at the cynicism of Labour.

“At the weekend, we saw leaks from The Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare (AGTSW) recommending that Child Benefit be means tested. It seems ironic that the first leaks come before a crucial vote on the Social Welfare Bill. I sincerely hope these leaks weren’t made to distract the debate and make things easier for Labour Party Senators who claimed to oppose the cuts.

“When this Government came into office, it promised sweeping political reform; if the last two weeks are anything to go by, this represents another broken Government promise.”