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'A cheap headline': Minister has no intention of scrapping welfare Christmas bonus

She said people on welfare payments were needlessly worried by news reports this morning.

Image: Graham Hughes/RollingNews.ie

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL Protection Regina Doherty has said she has no intention of discontinuing the Christmas bonus for welfare recipients this year.

It was reported by one newspaper this morning that the bonus would not be paid to pensioners and those on welfare payments this year. News reports quoted the opening remarks that Minister Regina Doherty was due to deliver to the Oireachtas committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection this morning.

The opening statement said there is currently no provision in the Budget for a Christmas bonus, but added that in the last four years the government was ultimately in a position to pay it because of the improvement in the country’s financial position.

Appearing before the committee today, Doherty dismissed this morning’s news report and said she wanted to put people’s minds at ease. She said she has “no intention of discontinuing the Christmas bonus for any social welfare recipient”.

regina The Minister dismissed reports this morning that the bonus may be in jeapardy. Source: Oireachtas

“There isn’t a TD or a senator in this house [who] didn’t get countless number of calls or emails or text messages this morning arising from that leak – that inaccurate leak,” she told the committee.

I’ve been called choice names today because of people’s reactions and I’m big and ugly enough to look after my own reputation. That’s not at issue. But what is at real issue is, I think it was the meanest of things to do, was to needlessly worry people – particularly older people and those with disabilities – just for a cheap headline.

Doherty explained to committee members that the bonus is “never is included in the Budget”.

“When I sit with Paschal [Donohoe] next week, we’re not going to have a line in the Budget for next year’s Christmas bonus.”

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She said around half of the bonus each year comes from the social insurance fund, which is in surplus at the moment. The other half comes from savings, which she said will “need to be found”.

“I think you’d want to be incredibly thick, or entirely desperate as the then government were and had no choice, to interfere with what is hugely relied upon by hundreds of thousands of people in this country.”

The Taoisesach was also asked about the newspaper reports after Leaders’ Questions today. He said he was happy to reassure people that the Christmas bonus would be paid this year. 

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