Friday 27 April 2018

Labour TDs set to keep their heads down and vote for cuts

Michael Brennan and Elaine Keogh

LABOUR backbenchers are set to back the controversial social welfare cuts in the Budget on the grounds that it is better to be "hanging in" the party than "hanging out".

Although Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has said he is taking no vote for granted, party sources believe that all TDs will ultimately vote for the cuts in the Social Welfare Bill today.

One Labour TD said that while all 35 TDs were unhappy with the Budget, the situation had calmed down over the weekend as they reflected on the fact that the basic social welfare rates had been protected.

Labour Dublin North East TD Sean Kenny said he had got good advice from a constituent that it was "better to be hanging in rather than hanging out".

He said that the influence of a Labour backbencher on government policy would be even more limited if they left the party.

"There are certainly things in this Budget I don't like but looking at some of the tax changes, it is fairly progressive," Mr Kenny said.

However, in a sign of the tensions within the party, the Labour mayor of Drogheda, Paul Bell, said he was "considering his position" with the party in the aftermath of the Budget.

A nephew of the former Labour TD for Louth Michael Bell, he said people felt they had been short-changed by planned cuts to child benefit and the respite care grant.

Labour Clare TD Michael McNamara insisted he was still going to be pushing the case for alternatives to the cuts and, as an example, cited increased taxes on pensions worth more than €60,000.

But he and Labour party chairman Colm Keaveney – who has also been critical of the Budget cuts – are still expected to vote for the Social Welfare Bill which is due to pass through the Dail this week.

Irish Independent

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