Scavenging children shows action needed


SEANAD:POLITICIANS NEEDED to take action over the level of poverty in the country, graphically highlighted by a social worker’s discovery of two five-year-olds scavenging from bins in a Waterford street last Wednesday, Paudie Coffey (FG) said.

“When it gets to these levels of destitution we have to stand up and take account of what is happening in front of our eyes.”

It was patently unfair that millionaires were in receipt of child benefit.

That terrible episode underlined the need to ensure budgetary measures were poverty-proofed, he said.

As the Government, in effect, fully controlled AIB, it had a duty to stop bonuses going to people for performances at a time when it was known that the banks were bankrupt, Shane Ross (Ind) said.

It was no good citing legal reasons for this, that and the other. It was unacceptable ethically that people should be rewarded for this sort of performance.

The €250,000 cap on the salaries of semi-State chiefs apparently related only to basic pay. It seemed that these people, some of whom were earning up to €750,000, were, with one exception, refusing to volunteer to take a pay cut.

“Why on earth is the Government allowing people at the top of semi-States to get performance-related bonuses when they are actually losing money? I just don’t understand it,” said Mr Ross.

While the Taoiseach’s Dáil “outburst” and interview with RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke had been characterised as a robust defence of the Budget, it had been purely a bullying exercise, Eugene Regan (FG) said.

Shouting down the Opposition and dismissing arguments put forward by them did not constitute parliamentary debate.

“The Taoiseach’s popularity rating is 8 per cent on the last poll. Does it have to go to minus 8 per cent before he realises that people have seen through these bully-boy tactics?”

Jerry Buttimer (FG) said Mr Cowen still needed to explain his role in the creation of the mess we now found ourselves in.

Ivor Callely (FF) said Mr Buttimer would have been one of the mob that had shouted “crucify him”. They all knew how those people had been so wrong.

Mr Buttimer: “You have some neck to come in here and lecture me about morality.”