Bacik defends Government over budget cuts
Many Labour members were most unhappy with the cuts to the respite care allowance and to child benefit, Seanad deputy leader Ivana Bacik (Lab) said. “However, we recognise the incredible difficulty in which we find ourselves as a result of the mismanagement of the economy by the Fianna Fail-led government over many years.”
She was reacting to comments by Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien, who asked Labour senators to reflect on the impact of various budget cuts. They had a real opportunity, he suggested, to signal their dissatisfaction, as the Government did not have a majority in the House similar to that it enjoyed in the Dáil to be able to “ram through these disgusting cuts”.
Mary White (FF) noted that Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, had spoken of the need to acknowledge where budgetary approaches had been got wrong.
Mary Moran (Lab) said she had been deeply touched and was concerned about some of the budget cuts. “We must weigh it up and we all have difficult decisions to make.”
Mary White (FF) said: “At least you admit you got it wrong.”
Fidelma Healy-Eames (FG) said everyone she had sounded out felt that a number of budgetary measures had been very harsh. She had written to the Minister for Social Protection to see if they could be undone.
Martin Conway (FG) said it was appalling to read reports that the Revenue Commissioners were threatening to remove mortgage interest relief for those who found themselves in arrears with their mortgage payments. “It gives people who are down on their knees a further kick. The Minister for Finance should immediately instruct the Revenue Commissioners to issue a clarification statement on their exact approach and to adopt a fair and reasonable approach . . .” Mr Conway added.
Seanad leader Maurice Cummins (FG) said it had been clarified that mortgage interest relief would be given on a pro rata basis to people paying part of their mortgages. Jillian van Turnhout (Ind) called on the Minister for Justice to publish the International Labour Organisation’s report criminalising forced labour in Ireland.