She honed in on the cuts to fuel allowance and child benefit. "Last night, An Taoiseach told struggling families and working people that they were not responsible for the crisis, yet today the Government has begun to deliver a budget targeting these very same people for a crisis not of their making," she said. " Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore insist that the State must pay out billions of euro to unguaranteed bondholders. The reality remains that this debt is unsustainable," she added.
"The burden of private bank debt must be lifted from the shoulders of citizens. It is not their debt."
But Ms McDonald's claim that her colleagues were "fighting with the British government" to achieve devolution of fiscal powers was treated with derision by government backbenchers. Fine Gael and Labour frequently pointed out that Sinn Fein was cutting services as part of the power-sharing government in the North.
However, Ms McDonald said that the decision to cut fuel allowance by €120 was "scandalous and will cost lives".
"By cutting fuel allowance, child benefit for third and fourth children, payments for lone parents on CEs and some job seekers' payments, the minister is sucking €475m out of local economies," she said.