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Ruth Coppinger asks Joan Burton: 'Are you embarrassed?'

She also compared the Tánaiste to Margaret Thatcher.

RUTH COPPINGER HAS asked Joan Burton if she is embarrassed by the fact austerity measures the government has implemented have caused “immense suffering for women”.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance TD said middle and low-income women had been particularly badly affected by budgetary cutbacks to child benefit and lone parent payments.

“You have swung your axe on women in a particularly sharp way,” Coppinger said.

In a phrase that is becoming popular in the Dáil, the deputy added that the coalition’s approach is “nothing short of Thatcherite”.

She criticised Burton for spending International Women’s Day in 2013 with Christine Lagarde, the “well-heeled” head of the IMF, while so many women are struggling.

ruth Ruth Coppinger Source: Oireachtas.ie

Burton defended the meeting, saying she and Lagarde were joined by women from all walks of life, including business and medicine, and those who are full-time carers. The Tánasite said she will spend this year’s IWD (this Sunday) at NUI Maynooth, celebrating the achievements of women in developing countries.

Coppinger said changes to lone parent payments were “turning seven-year-olds into latch-key kids” as their parent will not be able to look after them for several hours each day, if working.

The TD said, lone parents – the majority of whom are women – would need “a whopping salary” like Burton’s to afford regular childcare.

From 2 July, lone parents with a child aged seven will transfer from the One Parent Family Allowance to Jobseeker’s Allowance Transition or the Back to Work Family Dividend. It will not affect a lone parent who is not working, but a lone parent working 20 hours a week on the minimum wage will lose €50 a week.

joan 5 march Joan Burton Source: Oireachtas.ie

Burton said the move will help get lone parents back into the workforce. As for child benefit, she noted that Fine Gael and Labour had increased the payemnt by €5 per child per month.

Abortion

Coppinger also raised the issue of the government voting against Clare Daly’s bill providing for abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

Last week, delegates at the Labour Ard Fheis called for a referendum to be held on repealing the eighth amendment, which provides for the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn.

Coppinger said the party should make this happen in the lifetime of the current Dáil.

She told Burton it would “salvage something from this government for Labour”.

Labour TD Michael McNamara introduced another bill on fatal foetal abnormalities this afternoon.

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Órla Ryan

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