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Burton: ‘We’re not talking about’ €700m cut to social protection

The Minister for Social Protection said she was “very confident” a figure reported this morning was not accurate.
Nov 9th 2011, 8:50 AM 826 19

THE MINISTER FOR Social Protection has insisted that no decision has been taken on the extent of the cuts that will be taken by her department in the upcoming budget but that the €700 million is not accurate.

The Irish Times reports this morning that Joan Burton’s department will account for €700 million of the €2.2 billion reduction in public expenditure as part of the overall €3.8 billion worth of adjustments in the forthcoming budget.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Burton insisted that discussion surrounding the cuts involved are “ongoing” and added: “As far as I’m concerned nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

It is reported in the Irish Times that Burton had succeeded in convincing her cabinet colleagues that €822 million worth of cuts was not feasible but that €700 million in reductions lay ahead.

But Burton did say: “I would be very confident that we’re not talking about a figure like that.”

She also shed light on cabinet discussions saying: “There’s a lot of midnight oil that has been burnt over the last couple of months in relation to the budget”.

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Burton insisted that cuts in social protection had not been discussed in any great detail at cabinet level.

The bulk of her department’s budget is on welfare payments with Burton not directly answering the assertion that such cuts would make it difficult to maintain welfare payments but insisting she was confident the €700 million in reductions would not lie ahead.

The minister also discussed details of the €10 million in aid that will be provided for victims of the recent flooding in Dublin and other parts of the east of the country saying: “We as a country have to help these people. The rain that fell and the emergency that resulted from it was entirely unprecedented.”

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Hugh O'Connell

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