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 Header Item Social Welfare Bill 2012: Second Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2012: Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Confidence in the Government: Motion [Private Members]

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

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  9 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan] This person continues:

Eight items are without doubt a necessity I cannot live without. So I set about trawling through the other meds to see what can be axed. So an MS patient with severe kidney impairment and kidney disease, I was thinking I can't cut out my antibiotics. I may, in fact, get septicemia, not nice. I better keep them because they are prolonging my life.

  Pain relief. I have many levels of pain and all need to be controlled. I am not going to try to describe it. The choice I am left with [the Minister should remember that she had choices and this is the choice with which she left this woman] I may in fact, as my budget may not allow me to sustain the money it requires to keep my pain at bay, have to do without.

At the top of the first page of the Minister's speech it states "Check against delivery". I suggest that she check it against reality and against the promises she and her party made.

  I am not appealing to Fine Gael because its members do not give a damn. I am appealing to the socialists in respect of the promises they made before the general election. We know that the Labour thinking on those promises runs to the effect "Is that not what one does during a campaign?" The answer in that regard is "No, it is not". That is sick and I hope the Minister is proud of herself.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy This Social Welfare Bill is shameful, offensive and deeply unfair. It shows that the Labour Party has completely lost touch and has turned its back on its founders, its members and the general public. If the party had even a modicum of decency, it would ensure the Bill was withdrawn immediately.

What Barnardos has said about the budget and its impact on family incomes, namely, that the Government's measure of success is pushing more families into poverty, is instructive. It also referred to the measures in the budget as being "regressive, unfair and unsustainable". A man by the name of Fergus Finlay, the chief executive of Barnardos, former adviser to the Labour Party and probably still a member thereof and one of those put forward as a possible candidate to stand for the party in the recent presidential election said that what is being done in respect of child benefit is "a blunt and brutal attack on family incomes with no sense of fairness or equity". That is a perfect description of what is being done, which is a complete breach of the commitments and promises made by Labour during the general election campaign. According to this sign I have in my hands, Labour promised to protect child benefit.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt A Member may not display material in the House.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy It is absolutely shameful that the commitments and promises Labour made during the election campaign are being broken at will.

In the context of the reduction in child benefit, some 200,000 children are living in poverty. In the budget, the Government has cut the child benefit for a family with six children by €606 per annum. This is in addition to last year's cut of €383 which was introduced by the same Minister. There are also proposed cuts to the back to school allowance and the early childhood supplement.

The proposal in respect of the respite care grant is cruel, mean, penny-pinching and counterproductive and should be reversed immediately. Carers do major work and they save the State some €4 billion each year. They work for €1.21 per hour or for a half-rate of 61 cent per hour. Carers are finding it difficult to continue and their health is breaking down. The respite care grant is absolutely essential to them and the reduction to it should be reversed. I received a telephone call from a constituent earlier today which illustrates how the social welfare system is being dismantled by the Minister. The person in question applied for a carer's allowance for their young quadriplegic son some 51 weeks ago and has not obtained a result as yet. That is the absolutely damning evidence which exists in respect of what is happening in the area of social welfare.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I compliment the Minister with regard to JobBridge, Tús and the community employment, CE, schemes. These have long provided valuable and badly-needed services for elderly and vulnerable people. I sympathise with the Minister in that she is trying to deal with colleagues in government who have no interest in or respect for ordinary people. Fine Gael will never have an interest in or respect for such individuals. It is the party of the landed gentry and the big shots and always has been. We expected that Labour would protect those to whom I refer.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley The Deputy must be joking. What he is saying is rubbish.

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry Rubbish.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath May I have the floor please, Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Minister of State should stop interrupting.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I reiterate that Fine Gael has never had and never will have respect for ordinary people.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley I am not of the landed gentry or a big shot. I am sure my upbringing was more humble than that of the Deputy. Although I accept that I do not know what was the nature of his upbringing.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Fine Gael treats them like little peasants. What else could we expect from the Minister of State who has been stung by the reaction to the budget?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Deputy should address his remarks through the Chair.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath If Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers have any conscience, they will not pass this Bill.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Deputy Mattie McGrath should ask his friends over there from where I came. I worked for what I have got in this world.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They should face the people rather than retreating into hiding and taking down their Facebook pages. They are running away from the people.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Bullshit.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Is that decent language? Is the Minister of State allowed to use such language?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Will the Minister of State withdraw that remark?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath He is full of it himself so I will not ask him to withdraw it.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley I will withdraw the word but not the sentiment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I thank the Minister of State.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Minister of State is full of it himself so I will not ask him to withdraw it. I will not mention the word at all. The Minister of State cannot take the heat. If it is too hot in the kitchen, he should get the hell out.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley I will get the Deputy out of it first.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I respect the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton, who is trying to do her best for ordinary people. However, she is being bullied by Fine Gael. The Government recently introduced legislation which is designed to protect children's rights, mar dhea. However, what is being done in the Bill before the House is an attack on families, women, children and the very weakest in society. Those opposite robbed the money we provided for the Referendum Commission in respect of the referendum on children's rights. The Government stole that €1.1 million and used it to publish its own magazines and propaganda. The Minister of State can put that in his pipe and smoke it. We will deal with that matter tomorrow and in the coming days.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley What about the €41,000 allowance the Deputy receives?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath With regard to the attack on child benefit, on families, on the respite grant and on carers-----

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley What about the €41,000 the Deputy receives? What has he been doing with that money for the past ten years?

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry Tell us about the €41,000.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Dún do bhéal, más é do thoil é. Carers in this country do valuable work and they expect to be supported. These frightened and vulnerable people should not have been obliged to arrive at the gates of Leinster House today, some of them with their charges in wheelchairs, in order to beg us to embarrass the Government into rowing back on this cut.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Government rowed back on cuts to education last year and I appeal to it to row back on this one. It is taxing the humble bag of coal and funeral hearses. The next thing it will do is tax people's funeral shrouds. Those in government are messers.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley The Deputy is a messer.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They will not get away with what they are doing. They can run but they cannot hide. Go raibh maith agat.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Deputy has one minute remaining.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I have a minute left. I thought my time was up.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I am obliged to be fair. The Deputy has one minute.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Go raibh maith agat. The carbon tax was increased in the budget and this means the cost of a bag of coal will rise by €1.50 next May. In addition, a bale of briquettes will increase by 50 cent. People are buying single bales of briquettes in order to heat their homes for a day. This shows how badly off they are and the Minister of State and the Minister, Deputy Burton, are aware that this is the case.

I appeal to Labour Deputies and, indeed, those in Fine Gael to search their consciences. The latter never had consciences so they are unlikely to develop them now.

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry What about the Deputy's own conscience?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I appeal to those opposite to reject the Social Welfare Bill. I also appeal to the Minister to renegotiate the position and to take the money required from the rich and from those earning over €100,000 per year. Carers do a great deal of work and the cut to their respite grant should be reversed. I am proud to wear the badge of the Carer's Association each day.

I notice the Minister of State is off now, ag rith as an Chamber. He can run but he cannot hide.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley I will be back in two minutes.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath He will be back.

Debate adjourned.

Estimates for Public Services 2012: Message from Select Committee

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Select Sub-Committee on Health has completed its consideration of the following Supplementary Estimate for public services for the year ending 31 December 2012: Vote 39 - Health Service Executive.

Confidence in the Government: Motion [Private Members]

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I call Deputy Pearse Doherty to move the motion. I understand the Deputy is sharing time with Deputies Ó Caoláin, Crowe, Colreavy, McLellan, Martin Ferris and Healy-Rae.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty I move:

  That Dáil Éireann has no confidence in the Fine Gael and Labour coalition Government; which has failed to fulfil its obligations to make political decisions and choices which benefit the citizens of this State.

It is disappointing that there is no senior Minister present for the debate. This is a simple motion which states that the House has no confidence in the Government because Fine Gael and Labour have failed in their obligations to make political decisions and choices which benefit the citizens of this State. When this Government was formed, there was enormous hope and expectation that things were going to be different. In the months following the formation of the coalition, that hope and expectation was slowly dashed. As Fine Gael and Labour began to break successive election promises and commitments in the programme for Government, public confidence in this Administration began to ebb away.

  What the Government did on Wednesday last opened the floodgates to deep disappointment and burning anger. Across the State, people of all political persuasions and none have lost confidence in the Government.


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