Government insists no U-turn on budget
The Government is adamant there will be no row-back on any aspect of the budget in the face of growing criticism from Fine Gael and Labour backbench TDs.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte yesterday ruled out any change to the cuts in child benefit and respite care announced last Wednesday.
Asked on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics whether pressure from its backbench TDs would force the Government to revise its decision to cut the respite grant by €325, he replied: “No U-turn. I understand perfectly well how difficult some of the decisions are. The priority was to protect the weekly allowance to carers: the carer’s benefit, the carer’s allowance, and the half carer’s allowance . . . And the Minister [for Social Protection Joan Burton] had very difficult decisions to make, and it seems to me she was very successful [in what she achieved].” The position of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore remained that no changes would be made, their spokespeople confirmed yesterday.
A Government source said there were fears if concessions were granted on any one issue everything would unravel.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said: “The budget . . . was put together in the most difficult and fraught circumstances. What was decided was the only thing that both parties could live with.
“It would be an appalling vista to have to revisit it again.” Crucial votes will take place this week on the Social Welfare Bill, giving effect to cuts in child benefit and respite, and a motion of no confidence from Sinn Féin.
Ahead of both votes, the number of TDs from Fine Gael and Labour who have criticised the budget has risen to over 20. However, there is a strong consensus that the majority will support the Government.
Doubt does remain over the intentions of a small number of TDs, including Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney. He said his concerns about the budget had increased this weekend on foot of feedback from his Galway East constituency.