Sunday 28 December 2014

Quinn backs call for end to cuts in education and welfare

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 20/05/2014 | 02:30

Minister Ruairi Quinn
Minister Ruairi Quinn

A SECOND Labour minister has insisted that there can be no further cuts in the areas of Education and Social Protection.

Ruairi Quinn yesterday backed calls, initially made by his colleague Joan Burton, that the two high-spending government departments must be spared in the upcoming budget.

The Education Minister said it is a "no brainer" that he wants to see his department protected, along with the area of welfare spending.

"We've had to make extraordinary, difficult decisions. And we've got extraordinary positivity out of the education system from all of the stakeholders," Mr Quinn said.

"And if we can continue the economic recovery, and a lot of that depends on confidence both abroad and at home, then the need to reduce public expenditure to balance and get to the point where we are will be alleviated," he added.

But the Dublin South-East TD warned that the Government must not be seen to "lose its nerve" if the local and European elections prove difficult.

"And if the mid-term elections suggest that this Government is losing its nerve or that the people aren't prepared to ... continue the extraordinary march to recovery that we have led, then a lot of that confidence will disappear and a lot of the growth will be diminished."

Ms Burton last week went a step further and insisted that any substantial savings required in the budget must be found in the area of health.

Severe

Health Minister James Reilly is already grappling with severe financial challenges in the HSE.

In a clear swipe at her cabinet colleague, Ms Burton claimed that more than €200m worth of savings found by her department have been used to offset an overrun in the health budget.

The pointed remarks by two Labour ministers have been dismissed as "electioneering" by senior Fine Gael sources.

But Labour sources insist that any further cuts in Budget 2015 must be found in the area of health.

Irish Independent

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