Child benefit 'not for round-the-world trips'


SEANAD:CHILD BENEFIT had never been intended to enable better-off parents to fund round-the-world trips for their children, John Whelan (Lab) said. It was time to come to terms with the need to concentrate on assisting families who most needed this support.

Ronan Mullen (Ind) said he would be very sorry to see the principle of universality being done away with in regard to this payment. There must be another way in which the more privileged members of our society could be required to make a greater contribution to national wellbeing.

Martin Conway (FG) said he did not agree that millionaires should be able to claim child benefit. There had once been a system in An Post whereby at the request of some people such payments went into savings accounts. “Anybody who can afford to save child benefit does not need it.”

Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (SF) said his party was in favour of retaining child benefit as a universal payment. The principle underpinning it was that it was a payment to the child and it was a shame that Labour was making a U-turn in that regard, he said.

Government Whip Paul Coghlan (FG) said he thought everyone would subscribe to the view set out by Mr Whelan that this was something that had been designed for low-income families and not for the well-off, especially at this difficult time for our country.

Mr Ó Clochartaigh: “It’s a payment to the child.” Mr Coghlan responded that Sinn Féin were entirely wrong on the matter.

Fidelma Healy-Eames (FG) said she thought it was time to look at the concept of “to each according to their means”, but in such a debate a balance would have to be struck. Right now middle-income families were being incredibly squeezed.