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Government cherishes CEOs over children - Ó Caoláin

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 12th December, 2012 6:16pm

Government cherishes CEOs over children - Ó Caoláin

Speaking in the Dáil this evening on the Social Welfare Bill Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said this government cherishes CEOs over children and accused the Labour Party of breaking its commitment to protect core social welfare rates when it agreed to cut child benefit.

Addressing the Dail, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health & Children wondered who were the winners in Budget 2013?

"The Government pretends there were no winners. But the reality is that the most highly paid, the wealthy elite, escaped yet again and those struggling on the edge of poverty suffered most.

"The more you have the least you lose. Winner takes all. These are the mottos of Fine Gael, the big political winners in this Budget. They beat the Labour Party hands down."

He continued to argue that child care and after school care are extremely expensive in Ireland and that parents will further struggle by the measures implimented in the Budget.

"In terms of affordability this State has almost the worst child care and after school care provision in Europe. Working families with young children are spending up to 41% of their income on child care.

"According to the Energy Regulator families with children are having the most problems falling into arrears on their energy bills.

"Despite Programme for Government commitments, basic healthcare for children is extremely expensive. According to a report by the European Observatory, published at the end of November this year, this is the only State that does not offer universal coverage of primary care. The average cost of a GP visit here is €51 compared to €22 in France. We are one of only three states to charge individuals for essential prescription drugs and common medicines are many multiples more expensive to purchase in Ireland than elsewhere.

"We are one of only six countries to charge for attending hospital emergency departments. The hospital charge is much higher here than elsewhere - €100 compared to only €2-€30 in the other countries that charge.

And now families who face Child Benefit cuts must also face higher charges for medicines, through the trebling of prescription charges for medical card patients and the increase of the Drugs Payment Scheme monthly ceiling to €144. The reduction of the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is another heavy blow to those least able to sustain the hit.

I have no doubt that this Social Welfare Bill, in combination with the Health cuts, will damage the health of children.

"It would be fairer, simpler and economically sounder to introduce a third rate of income tax on all high earners. But Fine Gael and Labour Ministers have set their faces against fairness. Will all members of their parliamentary parties follow them?"

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