Sharp Seanad exchanges on social welfare increases

Labour’s Kevin Humphreys claims ambiguity around timing of welfare payments

Fine Gael Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer: “Some people did not want to give an increase to anybody”

Fine Gael Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer: “Some people did not want to give an increase to anybody”

 

There were sharp exchanges in the Seanad on the budget.

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys claimed mystery surrounded when the social welfare increases would be paid.

“We hear it will be in March,’’ he said. “I am reminded of the old saying that we have yet to hear which March.’’

He asked if it would be paid in the first or last week of the month.

“If it is to be paid in the last week of March, it is an additional saving to the exchequer of €28 million,’’ Mr Humphreys added. “It costs €7 million per week.’’

Fine Gael Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer said the ambiguity surrounding the implementation date related to the Government’s desire to give a €5 increase to all social welfare recipients.

“Some people did not want to give an increase to anybody,’’ he added. “If one reads the Sinn Féin alternative budget, one can see that it was giving less to people.’’

Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh said Mr Buttimer was wrong.

Leas-Chathaoirleach Paul Coghlan pointed out the House was dealing with the Order of Business and could debate the budget another day.

Sinn Féin Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile asked about pay rises for Oireachtas members.

Independent Senator David Norris said it was ridiculous there were attacks on the pay of TDs and Senators. “They should be paid appropriately,’’ he said.

Fianna Fáil Senator Ned O’Sullivan said it was disappointing that the budget was silent on local government, particularly funding for the restoration of town councils.