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Labour TDs meet with Burton in last-ditch bid to stop child benefit cuts

Two Dublin TDs want to stop the government from cutting child benefit – but if they can’t, will they vote against the Budget?

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Updated 7.50pm

TWO LABOUR TDs have met with a senior advisor of Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton in a last-ditch attempt to avert the planned cuts to child benefit.

The two Dublin TDs, Eamonn Maloney and Michael Conaghan, used the meeting to voice major concerns  about government plans which will see  child benefit cut by €10 a month for the first two children, €18 for the third and €20 for the fourth child.

The cuts to the monthly payment were the only item on the agenda at this evening’s meeting.

Both TDs denied any suggestion that they would vote against the government on the cut but told that they had concerns about the impact of the measure on poor people.

“The meeting was cordial,” said Eamonn Maloney, TD for Dublin South West. He said that the meeting had discussed how the child benefit cut would impact “those on welfare and those on low pay… how it would impinge on poorer people”.

The Dáil is due to vote on the cut to child benefit cut on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week when TDs will be asked to approve the Social Welfare Bill containing all the measures outlined in Budget 2013.

A number of Labour TDs are believed to be unhappy with the adverse effect of the child benefit cut on working-class families with three or more children who rely on the monthly payment.

Labour party chairman and Galway East TD Colm Keaveney has signalled his unhappiness with the Budget on Twitter and indicated that he too may seek changes to be made before voting on the social welfare elements next week.

Last night he tweeted that the Budget vote held on Wednesday night was only a vote on “elements [of the Budget] that I can live with”.

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“Next week is a different story,” he tweeted.

Dublin West TD Patrick Nulty, who voted against the government on the Budget last year,  called on Labour TDs to join him and other rebels in voting against the Budget 2013 legislation. He indicated that Roisin Shortall and Tommy Broughan – who are both outside the parliamentary Labour party – are likely to vote against the Social Welfare Bill when it is put before the Dail next week.

Labour said that any meeting between the Department and the two TDs would be  ”entirely a routine matter” and rejected the suggestion that the TDs wanted to pressure Labour to roll back on child benefits.

Labour also dismissed as “conjecture” the possibility of the two TDs voting against the government and losing the party whip.

FLASHBACK: Eamon Gilmore says Labour won’t cut child benefit >

Budget 2013: Here’s what will affect the children >

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