Abuse of welfare system needs to be tackled, says Senator

Thu, May 3, 2012, 01:00

SEANAD REPORT:THERE WAS a need to debate the introduction of a cap on multiple welfare payments going into some homes that had other sources of income, Tony Mulcahy (FG) said. People who were able to work the system could benefit to the detriment of other, more deserving households.

In his locality, four children from a particular grouping had been ferried to a First Communion ceremony in three Hummers and a glass carriage. There was nobody working in that house. Every one of them was on welfare.

“I think we need to have the courage to discuss these types of issues here. The volume of money spent on State support has gone beyond a joke and is giving the two fingers to people in normal society.” There should not be the kind of “showboating” that he had described, which he was sure was to be seen in every town in the country and which was being indulged in by a grouping that claimed to be an ethnic one.

A Labour member queried why TDs’ salaries were €27,000 more than those of Senators, even though they did the same work. John Gilroy said there had been an increasing tendency by members of the Dáil, particularly Government backbenchers, to express opinions about the future of the Seanad. Mostly they called for its abolition.

In the absence of an explanation, he was left to conclude that such calls might well be based on the assumption that money would be saved by abolition. “There might well be good reasons to abolish this House, but saving money is not one of them.”

Another way of making comparable savings might be to take a look at politicians’ salaries. “It often puzzles me as to why different rates of pay apply to different types of parliamentarians, even though we sit more or less the same number of hours, serve on the same committees and pass the same legislation.”

TDs calling for abolition of the Seanad might reflect first on reform of their own House. “When they have done so, they can come back to us and we will talk to them then.”

Susan O’Keeffe (Lab) said she could not envisage a future minister behaving in a manner “that was not kosher” in relation to the designation of entities that could conduct legally binding marriage ceremonies.

She was responding to concerns voiced by Paschal Mooney (FF) that proposed amendments to the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill would enable a minister of the day to designate bodies that would be regarded as marriage solemnisers.