Gilmore defends cut to youth dole

Government accused of introducing measure ‘to pauperise the young unemployed’

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: repeatedly defended the Government’s decision. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: repeatedly defended the Government’s decision. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Thu, Oct 17, 2013, 12:41

The cut in social welfare provision for those under 26 dominated Dáil proceedings this morning and resulted in heated exchanges.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore repeatedly defended the Government’s decision to cut the rate amid accusations that the Labour party had reneged on its promise that it would not cut basic social welfare rates.

Fianna Fáil social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea accused the Government of introducing a measure “to pauperise the young unemployed”. He said that was a cut to the core social welfare rate.

He quoted comments by Labour TD Eamonn Maloney that the measure “to stop the young from watching flat-screen television seven days a week” but Labour Youth had described the cut as “regressive, counter-productive and fundamentally unjust”.

Mr O’Dea asked which view the Tánaiste agreed with. Mr Gilmore insisted however “we have produced a budget which gets us out of the bailout without cutting basic social welfare rates”.

He said the budget would Ireland out of the bail-out and he contrasted it with the actions of Fianna Fáil in government. He said this Government was spending €1.7 billion more in social welfare than Fianna Fáil had provided for.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald described the budget as “deeply dishonest” and “littered with broken promises”.

She reiterated that programme for government pledge not to cut social welfare rates but this had been done in this budget, with the reductions in invalidity pension and cuts in young people’s social welfare.

“And hiding behind the deplorable record of Fianna Fáil is really no defence”.

Mr Gilmore said the Government’s pledge was “in employment or in education and training”.

Independent TD Clare Daly asked if the Government got its idea from David Cameron and the Tories, who announced two weeks ago, the removal from those under 25 from jobseekers and housing benefit.

She said the trade union movement challenged the Government to “produce the figures and the research that backs up the waffle you’ve been giving this chamber this morning...that cutting young people’s benefits will create jobs and will not lead to poverty”.

Mr Gilmore said EU Governments had developed the idea of the “youth guarantee” because of the “too high” rate youth unemployment in Ireland and a number of other EU member states.

He said “you get unemployment down by providing work experience opportunities ...and by providing the education and training that equips young people to get into employment”.

Across the EU €8 billion would be provided for this initiative. “Our objective is to ensure that young people get the opportunity of work which is what they need and that they are equipped with the education and training which will provide them with the skills to take up those employment opportunities.”

Ms Daly said the only guarantee for young people was if there was a job at the end of it.

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