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Snippet Contents:

We will introduce legislation to change that if we get the opportunity. The pay hike came exactly the same week that the Government, including the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor, announced it had accepted the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission that workers on the minimum wage should get a 10 cent increase. How fair is that? Deputies are expecting a raise of over €5,000 and we offer those on the minimum wage 10 cent. It is difficult to find words to describe this paltry and disgraceful recommendation other than to say that it is an insult to workers and a supreme example of the gross hypocrisy at the heart of our political establishment.
This hypocrisy and gross indifference continue when it comes to young people who happen to find themselves on jobseeker's allowance. If Fianna Fáil's phoney concerns for young jobseekers were genuine, it should have raised them while writing the budget for 2017 with Fine Gael. It is a bit rich for Fianna Fáil to be crying crocodile tears now over the tiny increase young jobseekers will receive when it itself had a central role in negotiating and drafting the budget. This is a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael budget; one should make no mistake about that. Fianna Fáil agreed to the budget that was announced this week, including the increase for jobseekers. Perhaps Fianna Fáil has only now realised that this is an issue.
Sinn Féin remains consistent in its call for the full restoration of the jobseeker's payment for all recipients regardless of age. In our alternative budget, we included a €40 increase in the payment for the under-26s as part of the restoration. I did not see this in Fianna Fáil's half-hearted, uncosted so-called "alternative budget". Does that party believe it is acceptable to abandon young people, some of whom are our most vulnerable?
I have first-hand experience of the impact of poverty and the neglect of young people on communities and society. Forty thousand of the young people on the live register are under 26. Of them, 1,625 live in Limerick and are depending on the State for their income. Shame on Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and the Independents who support them for producing this pathetic budget.
On the allocation to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, budget 2017 saw a 10% increase in the Department's capital allocation to bring it to €555 million. This includes €52 million supposedly to support job creation and innovation and assist Irish companies to respond to Brexit. This is simply not enough. As pointed out by a number of speakers already, Brexit is happening now. Jobs are at risk as we speak. Most stakeholders will state the currency challenges and drop in sterling have already threatened 7,000 jobs in the food export sector.
The IDA has received an increase of 22%, bringing its allocation to €137 million, with a view to establishing and progressing advance factories and potentially building factories in Dundalk, Limerick and Galway. That is very welcome but it is merely the tip of the iceberg.