A LOCAL Labour TD has described his decision to vote in favour of the Social Welfare Bill last week as the ' toughest decision I have ever made as a public representative'.
Brendan Ryan TD said: ' The Social Welfare Bill which formed part of this Budget contained elements which will hit ordinary people very hard. I acknowledged this when I saw details of the Bill last week and it caused me a lot of concern. 'I spent the week between when the Budget was announced and the vote on Thursday, December 13, meeting senior officials including the Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Social Protection. Joan Burton. 'I put forward practical proposals to them in my meetings and brought these proposals to the Dáil as the Bill was going through the House. In fact, I was the only TD from the Government parties to bring amendments to the Dáil for consideration.' Deputy Ryan explained: 'I made a strong argument to bring forward the arrangements to cap subsidies for pension funds which deliver an income of more than €60,000 per annum, which was announced by the Minister for Finance in the Budget. ' The current plan as set out in the Budget is for this change to come in on January 1st 2014, a full 1 year away. ' This subsidy cap is projected to bring in €250 million a year however the economy will not see the benefit of this until 2014. 'If this is brought forward to the middle of 2013 we can generate enough revenue to offset some of the harsher cuts in this Budget with particular reference to the cuts in Child Benefit for low and middle income families and the cuts to Respite Care Grant.' He added: ' The minister acknowledged my proposal was 'detailed' and had 'merit' and will present it to the Minister for Finance for 'detailed examination'. 'I will continue to push for this to be brought forward. 'As the Budget moved towards a vote I was faced with a decision. There is no doubt that I have many issues with the Social Welfare provisions in the Budget including Child Benefit cuts and the cut to the Respite Care Grant. 'If I had voted against the Bill it would leave me in a position of sero influence for the next three years. I believe that I provide a voice for people in Government to a level that is not provided by any other representative in Dublin North.' Deputy Ryan continued: 'And I also believe that the last thing that the people of Dublin North need is another opposition TD with no influence. 'Also, if I did become an opposition TD it would leave two Fine Gael TDs in Dublin North who would be pursuing a different agenda to me. Many people will criticise this decision but I believe it is in the best interests of the people of Fingal. 'I am not involved in politics for personal gain or ambition. I work hard to meet as many people in Fingal every day and bring their concerns to the Ministers in Cabinet. 'It was a difficult and personal decision and one I must now stand by. I hold no negative opinions towards any Labour TD for their decision made on this Bill.'