Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Exceptional Needs Payments (Continued)
 Header Item Social Welfare Code

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 92 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea] Why did the Minister wait until the eve of first holy communion and confirmation, with the result that people did not have the chance to plan ahead? She spoke about expenditure coming to an average payment of €300 in the east and nothing in the north west. The fact remains that since last year the cap was €110. Will the Minister agree with me that no one can be particularly lavish with €110? She has made a statement that people can shop around and buy clothes at a reasonable price. They might be reasonably priced for the likes of the Minister, but they are not for the people whom the Labour Party was supposed to and elected to represent. These prices are out of their range and the Minister is out of touch.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton It is difficult to find money in the challenging economic situation left to us by the Deputy’s party.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea A situation in which the Minister was more than willing to take over.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton However, I have found nearly €50 million for special needs payments. The Deputy can scoff all he likes.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea The Minister has slashed special needs payments.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Please, Deputy.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Deputy has a cheek.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea The Minister is a joke. She has some neck.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Fianna Fáil-----

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Protect child benefit - vote Labour.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Please, Deputy.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton This year the Department of Social Protection will spend €20.3 billion. That is a figure with a lot of noughts in case Deputy Willie O’Dea had not noticed.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea I understand that.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton It comes from hard-working taxpayers’ tax and PRSI payments.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea The Minister was not too worried about spending hard-working taxpayers’ money when she was on this side of the House.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I will not apologise to the Deputy for having to make a decision to target that budget of €20.3 billion as best I can among older people, parents with children-----

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Did the Government target the rich? Why did it not target those earning over €100,000?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton -----and the 250,000 people who, unfortunately, lost their jobs owing to Fianna Fáil’s policies after 2008.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea The Government’s solution is to crush the poor. Is that Labour Party policy?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Please, Deputy.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton We are getting people back to work.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Get off the stage.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Some 250,000 jobs were lost under Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea On a point of order, how many people has the Government got back to work?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That is not a point of order.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton On the other hand, we are getting people back to work. Under Fianna Fáil, 250,000 jobs were lost.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea The Minister is a bluffer. The unemployment rate is the same.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton For the first time since 2008, we have got considerable numbers of people back to work.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I ask the Minister to move on to Parliamentary Question No. 2.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea How many are back in employment?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Deputy has his legacy and has to live with it.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Tell that to the Minister's friends in the media.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton May I move on to the next question?

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Labour Party members might be fooled into believing that, but no one else is.

Deputy Alan Farrell: Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell Come on, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I ask Deputy Willie O'Dea to stop, please.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I will wait until he finishes. If he likes, I will sit down and let him rant about Fianna Fáil. Perhaps he wants to apologise. His apology is long overdue and I have not heard it from him yet. He should apologise to taxpayers and hard-working people.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Protect child benefit - vote Labour.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Please, Deputy.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton He is getting excited because the Ard-Fheis is near.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea It would take a lot more than the Minister to excite me.

Social Welfare Code

 2. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason retained firefighters who are entitled to social welfare payments when they are not working in other employment are still having payments withheld from them. [19161/13]

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Retained firefighters are entitled to a jobseeker’s payment in respect of days they are engaged in firefighting or training. They are, however, required to satisfy the statutory conditions for the receipt of a jobseeker’s payment of being available for and genuinely seeking work. A working group has reported to me and I am pleased to inform the House that I have decided to advance provision within the jobseeker’s schemes to cater for these workers. In arriving at this decision I have been particularly mindful of the vital service they provide, particularly in rural communities where the fire service is almost exclusively staffed by retained personnel.

Legislation in this area is being drafted for inclusion, as approved by the Government, in the forthcoming Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2013. For this reason, I will not go into the specifics of the planned provisions. However, it is my intention that the legislation will allow retained firefighters reasonable and a fair level of access to the schemes in the future. The legislation will take effect from commencement of the relevant provisions of the Bill.

I thank all Deputies and Senators who have been in contact with me on this issue for their patience and forbearance, as well as my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, for his input. I intend to write to relevant Members in the near future outlining my proposals in more detail.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh It is welcome news that progress has been made in this area and I hope we will see the detail of the arrangement soon. It was a very simple anomaly. On the one hand, the Department wanted to comply with its rules and regulations, but, on the other, this vital service was being undermined by social welfare inspectors and the social welfare appeals office. Is it the Minister intention to make this change as soon as possible? Will she inform social welfare inspectors and the social welfare appeals office to put the various cases in question on hold? In the cases in which recipients took a case to appeal and lost, will they be re-examined?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The practice regarding retained firefighters has its roots in an administrative decision in 1972 to disregard any day of firefighting or training when determining their entitlement to jobseeker’s benefit or allowance. There was the proximity rule for those living close to the fire station. When this matter was brought to my attention several months after I had taken office, I sought to ensure such an unsatisfactory arrangement would be brought to an end. To achieve this, I had to have regard to both the integrity of the social welfare system and the fact that special arrangements had operated for firefighters since the 1970s. I have the Government’s approval to place these arrangements on a sound legislative footing and the specifics are being worked through. The legislation in question will have to be drafted and sent to the Attorney General’s office and the Parliamentary Counsel. I have sought the Government’s approval in this regard because I believe the social good of maintaining this service for the safety and protection of citizens justifies the special arrangements in place. I am satisfied the right outcomes will be achieved with the planned legislation.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh I hope this decision will not impact negatively on the 800 firefighters who avail of the scheme in question. I hope they will be employed in the future rather than being dependent on this payment.


Last Updated: 29/04/2020 08:42:30 First Page Previous Page Page of 92 Next Page Last Page