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Labour TD accused of 'appalling duplicity' over stance on lone parent cuts

Emmet Stagg said an “unintended consequence” of new rules will see thousands of people lose money.

Updated 2.55pm 

A LABOUR TD has been accused of “appalling duplicity” over comments he made about recent changes to the One-Parent Family Payment in an email to a constituent.

Emmet Stagg, the party’s chief whip, criticised the changes in the correspondence.

He wrote that he voted in favour of the changes because he was told they would only be implemented if Ireland’s childcare system was improved.

stagg Source: Twitter

The email states:

I simply fail to see how cutting the income of the very ones who are making a real effort to improve the lot of their families and themselves helps in some way to get out of the poverty trap. It clearly has the opposite effect.
I will continue to press for a reversal of this bad decision.

The correspondence has been shared online by a number of people, including Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney – a former Labour colleague of Stagg.

He accused Stagg of “appalling duplicity” for voting in favour of the changes.

The Labour chief whip told TheJournal.ie Keaveney is “entitled to his opinion, but I don’t agree with it”.

The matter was also raised at Leaders’ Questions today with Stagg in the Dáil chamber as Micheál Martin told Tánaiste Joan Burton that even her own chief whip did not support the cut.

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Martin said that Burton’s criticism of Fianna Fáil failing to address lone parents in poverty during its time in government was “political grandstanding” that did not help those currently impacted by the cut.

Single parents in receipt of welfare are now required to seek employment or training as soon as their youngest child turns seven.

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Governments Programmes Of Dail Reforms Emmet Stagg Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Stagg said most of the of the 30,000 parents in part-time work won’t be affected by the changes, but an “unintended consequence” is that about 4,500 people will lose money.

He added that some people will also gain from the new rules. Other other transitionary parents are available, but some campaign groups have said up to 11,000 single parents could lose income.

Stagg said the changes are the third phase of quite a complicated scheme that aims to take more one-parent families out of the poverty trap.

He said he will continue to push for the reversal of the changes “as soon as possible” – perhaps in the next Budget.

- with reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

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Órla Ryan

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