independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Kenny rules out restoring the Christmas bonus for people on social welfare

Taoiseach explains: "somebody's gotta pay" for the €261m cost

Kenny rules out restoring the Christmas bonus for people on social welfare
Kenny rules out restoring the Christmas bonus for people on social welfare

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out restoring the Christmas bonus for people on social welfare because "somebody's gotta pay" for the €261m cost.

He said that it would be "lovely" from a political point of view to restore the double social welfare payment at Christmas, which was abolished by the previous Government in 2009.

But he said it was not possible to pay for the €261m cost of the payment.

"We can't go to the kind of the situation we had in the past where there was an assumption that everything was available for nothing. Somebody's gotta pay in the end of the day," he said.

The issue of re-instating the Christmas bonus has been put on the agenda after Independent TDs such as Thomas Pringle and John Halligan said it would help people facing hardship after years of social welfare cuts.

At Leader's Questions in the Dail, Independent TD Seamus Healy criticised Mr Kenny for "a mean and shameful reply". But he said these were not his words - this was what Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore had said to former Taoiseach Brian Cowen when he abolished the payment back in 2009.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny insisted that the Oireachtas Health committee would get a chance to discuss the HSE's long awaited service plan for next year before the Dail goes on its Christmas break. It is due to contain the details of €666m of health cutbacks announced in the Budget.

Mr Kenny said that Health Minister Dr James Reilly had to give his response to the draft HSE service plan by next Monday and that there would be a chance for the Oireachtas Health committee to discuss it.

It came after Sinn Fein health spokesman Caoimhghin O'Caolain complained that the publication of the plan had been repeatedly delayed.

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