Burton takes flak for 'shop around' comment
THE Labour Party leadership was at the centre of two controversies last night in the wake of Budget cuts.
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton landed in hot water after justifying cuts to the clothing and footwear allowance by saying families can get "good value in some shops".
And Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's pension came under attack in a bitter Dail row.
Ms Burton made her comments after a cut to the annual Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.
Echoing the infamous 'shop around' mantra of a previous government, she told families facing a cut of up to one-third in their school clothing and footwear allowance they can get "good value in shops in relation to clothing and footwear".
Meanwhile, former Labour junior minister Roisin Shortall questioned whether the reason there were not higher taxes on big pensions was because of the impact it would have on the pensions of Mr Gilmore and other ministers.
She said the Government had failed to crack down on tax-free pension lump sums of up to €200,000. "This pension regime represents an assault on ordinary working families and I believe it's a disgrace," she said.
Ms Shortall also hit out at the €10 flat rate cut in child benefit payments in the Budget, saying that it hit people who were very poor and very rich.
Mr Gilmore said that he had never seen a Budget that had introduced more measures or raised more money in taxes on wealth in this country.
Tommy Broughan, who quit Labour last year in protest at cutbacks, accused colleagues of "abandoning the Labour Party" in heated Dail exchanges. Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphreys hit back by claiming he left when the going got tough.