Labour calls for backbench revolt on welfare bonus

The Labour Party is putting pressure on government backbenchers and independent TDs to vote against the controversial scrapping of the Christmas social welfare bonus.

The party has tabled a private members’ motion in the Dáil calling for the reversal of the measure, which effectively amounts to a 2% cut in welfare payments.

It is expected to save the Exchequer around €200m, but Labour says the money is being taken from vulnerable pensioners, poor families and people losing their jobs.

Speaking during a debate on the matter last night, Labour TD Roisin Shortall said many government backbenchers knew that the cut was unnecessary and "a huge political mistake".

"How can you tell your constituents that cutting the Christmas bonus is an act of social solidarity?" she asked.

"How can you as backbenchers stand behind a cabinet that ignored you on medical cards for the over-70s and is now ignoring you on this?"

Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin, however, insisted that the cut was necessary given the poor state of the public finances.

She said the decision would be re-examined as soon as the economy begins to grow again.

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