TONIGHT TDS VOTED to pass the the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill in its second stage by 79 votes t0 44.
The bill, which contains some €225 million in cuts including a reduction in jobseekers’ allowance for young people and a cut in maternity benefit for some women, will now move to committee stage.
There was fierce debate in the Dáil chamber tonight with Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó’Snódaigh kicking up a fuss when the vote was called and accusing the government of trying to rush the bill through.
Earlier today Fianna Fáil’s social protection spokesperson Willie O’Dea said the measures announced by the government last week were part of the country’s “third regressive Budget in a row”.
However Minister Joan Burton defended the proposed cuts, telling the Dáil that her department is “protecting against poverty” in “exceptionally difficult times”.
She also said the measures in the Budget and the various employment programmes will ensure that young people are “always better off in education, training or employment than claiming”.
The bill voted on tonight also includes the abolition of the bereavement grant which TD Clare Daly described as a “mean and cruel attack on the elderly”.
The Dáil has been adjourned for the night until 10am tomorrow.