During Leaders’ Questions this morning Independent TD Stephen Donnelly took issue with the cut in Jobseeker’s Allowance for under 25-year-olds, from €144 to €100, while 25-year-olds will get €144 instead of €188.
Stephen Donnelly: “Taoiseach, with respect, there’s only one group of people here today and yesterday who are insulting the motivation of young people and that is the group of people you were saying you need to cut their social protection to get them to work. Because that is the logic that is being used. Minister Howlin came in here yesterday and said, I quote: ‘I am pleased to announce no reduction in the basic rates of social welfare for the people of working age’. He then announced a reduction in the rates of basic social welfare rates for people under 26. Are people under 26 not of working age? I’m confused. And then the Tánaiste on national radio this morning added insult to injury by saying ‘it’s not a cut’. In double speak, worthy of George Orwell, he explained it wasn’t a cut, the Government was simply ‘extending the lower rate to these people’. Extraordinary stuff. Here’s what Aideen Carbery, the chairperson of Labour Youth said about it: ‘It’s fundamentally unfair. It is our opinion that it will cause people to emigrate. We watched on with a sense of sadness and concern I don’t think that the problem with the unemployment crisis in this country is training. The issue is that there are not enough jobs.’ Labour Youth. Most of our young, unemployed are graduates. They are highly-educated and taking low-paid work to make ends meet. Taoiseach, this cut, not only displays a complete misunderstanding of the unemployment challenge faced by our youth. It’s not just bad economics, it’s discriminatory. This, to me, and I mean this most sincerely, this is an issue of human rights. You would not, and none of us would, I hope, come in here and say ‘we are cutting basic social protections to non-whites, to women, to Muslims but that’s exactly what you’ve done. You’ve targeted a group of people based on age. So, Taoiseach, my question to you is this: Do you accept that this cut discriminates based on age? Do you accept that that is not how we should do business in this country? Do you accept that these people are equal citizens in our country? And will you ask Minister Burton to remove this from the Social Protection Bill before it comes before this House? Thank you.”
Previously: ‘We’re not cutting their benefits’