It is not possible to make a Budget adjustment of €2.5 billion without hitting people where it hurts, Sinn Féin’s Finance Spokesman Pearse Doherty told the Dáil.
“This Budget was written by spin doctors and the devil is always in the detail,” he said. “The Government has returned as usual to the same hard-pressed families and asked for more such as hikes in excise duties; cuts to maternity benefit - the second time mothers have been hit - cuts to illness benefits and a 7% cut in the drugs initiative. I congratulate the Tánaiste on that one. What is the Government’s reason for the cut to the telephone allowance? They have cut the benefits for old-age pensioners hard and now taken the telephone allowance from them in order that they cannot telephone to complain about it.”
Probably the most despicable of all is the cut to the bereavement grant, which is absolutely wrong, he said. The Taoiseach should talk to any family dealing with a bereavement. The only support the State provides for eligible families to bury their loved ones, young or old, is the €850 bereavement grant, which is being taken away from them.
“It is wrong,” he said. “The Taoiseach should not strip away this grant from families who need it at this time. The cost of burying a loved one is expensive.”
Deputy Doherty said Sinn Féin also called for free GP care for the under-fives, but the Government has at the same time withdrawn medical cards from very vulnerable persons.
“It is pitting grandparent against grandchild in order to make pitiful savings, but people can see through this,” he said. “It is not right that a medical card is taken from the grandparent to be given to the grandchild. Free GP care could have been provided for children aged five years and under while also protecting vulnerable elderly people.”