Budget 2013 Education: ‘Why do children bear the brunt time and again?’

The Government parties have now implemented €7bn in taxes and cuts despite being elected to end austerity, Sinn Féin has said.

Party finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said Fine Gael and Labour were merely continuing the disastrous policies of the previous administration.

“Fine Gael and Labour have swallowed the failed economic policies of Fianna Fáil hook, line, and sinker and are now implementing them with gusto,” he said.

He said the Government had delivered via the budget “a bill for the ordinary families” across the country.

“It is a bill that picks up the tab for the failed policies of Labour, Fine Gael, and Fianna Fáil — three parties that have caused, deepened, and lengthened the recession.”

Mr Doherty questioned whether the coalition partners had something against children, in particular.

“I ask the Taoiseach and Tánaiste what happens to the Labour Party and Fine Gael when they get into government. In the 1980s, they introduced a tax on children’s shoes and now they are cutting the benefit that keeps children in shoes. Do they have something against children? Do they not like them? Why do children bear the brunt time and again?

“Child benefit is the payment that is keeping many families just above the water line and for many working families, it is the only contribution they receive from the State.”

He said the Government was failing to grasp the struggles of low and middle-income families. “They are the mothers who go without dinner so their children can eat. They are the fathers who stand in the dole queue, trying to keep some of their pride and wondering if they will be able to meet the bills that are coming in.

“They are the elderly who gave their lives and taxes to this State and are now living in poverty.”

He predicted the property tax would be “the straw that breaks the backs” of many families.

Mr Doherty said the Government should have introduced a wealth tax instead of a property levy, which would have ensured that the richest paid while low and middle-paid families were protected.

Mr Doherty also lashed out at ministers’ failure to cut their own pay.

“Not one cent has been cut from politicians’ salaries today. We asked the Government to cut the incomes of politicians and high-ranking civil servants rather than cut child benefit but despite tinkering with allowances, the basic salary of a deputy continues to be €92,000 a year, a minister still earns €169,000 per annum, and the Taoiseach earns €200,000.”

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