Thursday 22 March 2018

Burton 'trying to con OAPs' with €3 pension increase

It's not a secret that Tánaiste Joan Burton is in no rush back to the hustings
It's not a secret that Tánaiste Joan Burton is in no rush back to the hustings
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The Coalition has been accused of trying to use "three coins" to fool elderly people into voting for them.

The €3 rise in the old-age pension was being hailed as a massive coup by the Labour Party last night - but the Opposition claimed the small increase was "a massive insult".

Former social protection minister Éamon Ó Cuív told the Irish Independent it was "a vote-getting exercise".

He said Tánaiste Joan Burton had "no strategy behind this other than to attract the grey vote" and criticised the fact that she favoured a blanket payment rather than a targeted one.

"My interest had been in 2010, if I'd been left in the department, to link payments to people with moderate or severe disability.

"The greater the disability the higher the payment. I would have thought that would be a more targeted way of doing it," the Fianna Fáil TD said.

Earlier in the day, Ms Burton was told by Ivan Yates on Newstalk Breakfast that the €3 wouldn't buy a bowl of soup.

Ms Burton defended her decision to target pensioners over other social welfare groups, saying that the return of 75pc of the Christmas bonus would help disabled people and others.

"It's a significant addition to people's spending power at a time when there is significant demands on spending," she said.

"Pensioners helped to build our country. During the difficult years pensioners were very often helping their children, their grandchildren out of their pension. I think it's time pensioners got a little something back," she said.

But in the Dáil, Independent TD John Halligan said older people were "quick to see through" the €3 increase.

"The Government will hand pensioners three coins. That increase is immediately negated by failing to restore the lifeline that was the telephone allowance.

"Irish telephone costs are the sixth-highest in Europe. The prescription charge has not been touched, that is €1.50 gone already because it rose over two years, while the meagre increase in the fuel allowance does not even restore it to 2009 levels," he said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also focused on prescription charges. "Elderly citizens are now being forced to decide which medicines to take because the prescription charge is so high, at €2.50 per item. Where now stands the 2012 promise to abolish prescription charges?" he asked.

Irish Independent

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