Wednesday 29 March 2017

Any pension increases announced should take effect on January 1 - Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has insisted any pensions increases announced on Budget Day should take effect from January 1.

Mr Martin has claimed the Budget is “falling victim to the political jousting that is going on within Fine Gael”.

However, while repeatedly insisting January was his preferred date for a €5 pension hike, he refused to say the start date was a red-line issue.

Speaking at his party’s annual Presidential Dinner in Dublin, Mr Martin blamed Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar for springing his demands at a very late stage in the negotiations.

“One has to look at Leo’s behaviour through a certain prism. I think there is an element of internal Fine Gael politics afoot here,” he said, adding: “We didn’t set any limits to welfare spending.”

Mr Martin suggested the minister’s motivation was gaining political points within Fine Gael rather than worrying about vulnerable people in society.

“I think there’s an element that Leo feels that if he can have a go off Fianna Fáil consistently, and try to undermine Fianna Fáil, that that might gain him traction in whatever subsequent election he might find himself a party to,” he said.

Mr Martin said he was “irritated” by the situation but said work would continue to secure a deal before Tuesday.

“We are somewhat concerned about the 11th hour nature of some of what is now happening in terms of the overall budget that is now available in terms of the famous fiscal space and also the 11th hour suggestion that the welfare payments would go back to mid year.

“We find that is unacceptable. Certainly the process will need to be improved for next year.”

The Cork TD added: “We are concerned about what has happened. Negotiations are still underway and our view is that welfare payments should start in January.”

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