Friday 30 September 2016

Joan Burton lashes out during Morning Ireland interview: 'I don't know what world RTE inhabits, perhaps in Dublin 4....'

Published 15/09/2015 | 09:47

Labour Party leader and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton lashed out at RTE this morning during a robust interview on today's 'Morning Ireland' programme.

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The tanaiste questioned what "kind of world" RTE lives in when quizzed about increases to children's benefit.

The outburst came as Burton was interviewed about plans for the upcoming budget.

Host Gavin Jennings asked the minister if there were any plans for a full reversal of the child benefit cut.

"What I'm looking forward to in this budget is focusing as I did last year on a number of particular areas; families with children. So I anticipate, subject to the finalisation of figures, anticipate we will be in a position to increase child benefit and also to have a better childcare package because that's a very big issue for families with young children.

"How about a full reversal of the child benefit cut? Is it?" Jennings then asked.

"There are no figures that have been decided yet Gavin," the minister replied.

"What about the back to school allowance? Will you reverse the cut to the back to school allowance?," Jennings asked.

"No. Because what I want to do there is I want to support all families with children through child benefit and to look at targeted measures, none of which as yet, have been signed off...."

Joan's criticism of RTE came after Jennings said: "Yes but with respect a child benefit increase to every child, to every family in the country is not a targeted increase. What benefit cuts I have asked you about, are you going to reverse?

"Gavin, can I just say to you. I think that's quite an extraordinary statement by RTE that child benefit doesn't benefit families with children. I don't know what world RTE inhabits, perhaps, in Dublin 4.

"But I can tell you right across this country, in town and country, in village and city, families with children look forward to more support. People who are retiring look forward to more support. One of the things I did last year was to reintroduce a 25pc Christmas bonus - I hope to be in a position to at least double that this year," she replied.

Jennings was interviewing the Tanaiste in a Co Wicklow hotel where the Labour party were having their last party think-in before the Dail resumes.

Ms Burton was interviewed by Jennings at 8.40am.

During the interview, Jennings also grilled the Labour leader about the infamous 'Every Little Hurts....' campaign run by Labour in the 2011 General Election, during which they urged voters to not allow Fine Gael govern alone and vote for Labour.

The campaign famously highlighted nine cuts - child benefit, the introduction of water tax, an increase in VAT were some of the cuts mentioned.

Jennings asked the tanaiste which cuts Labour had managed to prevent.

Ms Burton conceded that Labour did not make a difference to the introduction of cuts, but said her party has helped get the country back in recovery mode.

An extra 110,000 jobs have been created since the last election - driving employment down from 15pc to 9.5pc, Ms Burton said.

She was also quizzed on the water conservation grant, with Jennings asking her if the grant would be available to people who haven't paid their water bills.

Ms Burton said people who registered for Irish Water - but haven't necessarily paid their bills yet - are eligible for the grant. She said she trusted that people who have registered with Irish Water would ultimately pay their bills.

Asked at the Labour parliamentary party meeting about the encounter, Tanaiste Joan Burton said she is "entitled to be part of the conversation".

She joked that she was unaware of the presenter's qualification's as a doctor.

"I apologise I didn't use his full title," Ms Burton said.

I think it was a robust interview and robust interviews are what I expect. But equally I am entitled to be part of the conversation and that was what I was trying to do.

I think the role of the media is to reflect the country honestly and the concerns of the media as the media decides but I was seeking to make the point that the country has come to a much better place. I think I'm entitled to say that."

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