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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Dáil scenes

Joan Burton compared to Margaret Thatcher (again)

But the lady is not for turning on the cut to the one-parent family payment.

burton thatcher Empics / Oireachtas Margaret Thatcher and Joan Burton Empics / Oireachtas / Oireachtas

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON was accused of adopting a “Thatcherite” stance in the government’s approach to lone parents in the Dáil today.

The cut to the one-parent family payment again took centre stage at Leaders’ Questions this afternoon.

The ‘Thatcher’ charge was made by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald as Burton was accused of implementing cuts that are “anti-woman” and “anti child”.

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Changes to the payment made to lone parents will mean that single parents in receipt of social welfare will be required to seek employment or training as soon as their youngest child turns seven.

Though other transitionary parents are available, as many as 10,000 single parents will see their income adversely affected, according to campaign groups.

McDonald said this had been the eighth cut that the government had implemented which directly affected lone parents. She asked:

Tánaiste, why have you broken your solemn commitment that, in the absence of accessible and affordable child care, you would not introduce this cut?

Last night the Dáil voted to reject a Sinn Féin private members’ motion aimed at reversing the cut and instead endorsed the government’s position.


Burton defended the coalition’s record on childcare, stating that significant investment has been made in communities.

She specifically cited the “revamp of community-based childcare” in order to make it more affordable.

The Labour leader accused McDonald of wanting to keep families in poverty and also raised the murder of Jean McConville by the IRA.

It’s not the first time Burton has been compared to Margaret Thatcher.

Last November, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said at a party event that Burton was “getting more like Margaret Thatcher every day”.

In July 2011, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that Burton’s comments about young people on social welfare ”was like listening to Margaret Thatcher during the 1980s”.

While during a Budget debate in 2013, Socialist TD Joe Higgins hit out at the then-social protection minister, saying she “stands in the same gallery of political rogues as children’s milk snatcher, the late Margaret Thatcher”.

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