THE Government has been accused of telling people to shop around for a cheaper funeral in light of the budget move to cut the €850 bereavement grant.
The accusation came as Education Minister Ruairi Quinn was attacked in the Dail for suggesting on the radio that there was "insufficient competition" in the funeral sector as the Government pushed through the Social Welfare Bill.
The measures included the cutting of the pensioner telephone allowance, a reduction in the dole for under 26s and reductions in maternity benefits.
"The Minister was asked about this issue on radio recently. In his response, he stated the problem was that funeral had become too expensive and this expense was being driven by the bereavement grant.
"Obviously, the Minister for Education envisages that a widow or a widower will hold a tendering process and invite undertakers to make competitive bids.
"That really is contemptible. It is an insult to the people who already are traumatised by the death of a loved one - and for the sake of €17m."
He added that the average cost of a funeral in Limerick was €5,000.
Independent TD Noel Grealish claimed that all of the issues in the Budget, this was the hardest.
Yesterday, Social Welfare Minister Joan Burton said there were other alternatives to the bereavement grant that could be used by families when a loved one dies.
"If one partner of a pensioner couple dies, their spouse continues to get the social welfare payment of the deceased spouse for six months. That is worth roughly €1,200 to €1,400."