Labour and FG ‘lousy to attack elderly’ - FF

Fianna Fáil TD and Sinn Féin have slammed the budget, but Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan said it will create jobs.

Fianna Fáil TD and Sinn Féin have slammed the budget, but Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan said it will create jobs.

FF TD Sean Fleming claimed the elderly were “singled out for a special attack”.

“They abolished the telephone allowance. Elderly people need a landline for security reasons as the panic alert button is connected to it. They feel vulnerable and isolated but this will make them feel more insecure,” he said.

He said the higher prescription fees for people on medical cards will also hit the elderly hardest.

“Many elderly people will also lose their medical cards. The meanest aspect of this Budget was the Government abolishing the Bereavement Grant,” he said.

Dep Fleming said cuts to young people’s dole will force further emigration.

“The government sent a message to young people telling them they are better off to emigrate,” he said.

Mountmellick SF Cllr Stephen Lynch called for a reversal of the cut to the telephone allowance.

“The panic alarm that is the lifeline for many vulnerable older citizens does not work without a phone line, this is the knock-on effect of this cruel and ill thought through cut,” he said.

However Charlie Flanagan of Fine Gael defended the budget, saying incentives such as cutting the Home Renovation Tax Scheme, would help create 48,000 jobs. He said it would also deliver free healthcare young children.

“FG and Labour tried to devise a budget that is as fair and equitable as possible. To assist the coping classes we have ensured for the third year, that headline social welfare payments were maintained. The delivery of free GP care to children aged 5 and under from next year means parents of over 9,000 children in Laois can bring them to the doctor without having to pay. 43% of the population now has access to free GP care,” he said.

In agriculture, he welcomed an extra €23 million for the suckler cow scheme.

“This government is determined to further develop the agri-food sector, building growth and prosperity,” he said.

The moratorium on public service recruitment will ease.

“1,400 additional teachers will be recruited on top of the 1,400 recruited this year. Garda recruitment will also begin shortly,” he said, noting €9m set aside for Garda cars.

“The state continues to borrow €1bn a month. We spend as much on our national debt as on education. The exit of the bailout on December 15 will be a watershed moment for the country. The co-operation of the Irish people has been vital,” he said.