TD wants to 'save young from flat-screen TVs'
controversial dole cuts will make sure young people are not stuck watching "flat-screen televisions" seven days a week, a Labour TD has said.
The claim came as Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore bizarrely said that the decision to cut dole payments from €144 to €100 for young people aged 22-24 was not "cutting benefits".
The opposition has warned the cuts could force more young people to emigrate. However, there is no sign of Labour backbenchers demanding a U-turn.
Labour TD Eamonn Maloney said there had been a consistent message from parents in his Dublin South West constituency – which has the highest level of youth unemployment in the country.
"Parents will tell you that they do not want their children at home watching a flat-screen television seven days a week," he said.
Mr Maloney said parents wanted the Government to give young people the chance of accessing work, education or training instead of staying on the dole.
Fellow Labour TD Joanna Tuffy, who is the chair of the Dail's social protection committee, said there had been measures in the Budget to ring-fence more training places for young people on the dole.
"We have to ensure that young people don't get caught up in the trap of long-term unemployment. I feel it's the right thing to do, taking all that into account," she said.
Despite opposition criticism of Mr Gilmore's claim that there had been no cut, a spokesman for Mr Gilmore insisted that he was correct. He said the measure was an extension of the €100 dole rate introduced for 18 to 21 year olds several years ago. The dole rate for those aged 25 will drop from €188 to €144 – but both cuts will only apply to new claimants.
Meanwhile, the website of the party's Youth Wing – Labour Youth – crashed after it posted a statement strongly criticising the dole cuts. Following speculation that the website had been taken down by the party because of the criticism, the Labour press office was forced to confirm that the crash was accidental.
Overall, TDs from both Labour and Fine Gael reported a very muted reaction to the Budget, with far fewer phone calls and emails than last year.
But the Union of Students of Ireland (USI) warned that the latest dole cuts could force more young people to emigrate at a time of massive youth unemployment.