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Mary Lou says Joan Burton is 'giving two fingers' to the public

The Tánaiste’s own comments came back to haunt her today.

THERE WAS ONE important element missing from the weekly Joan Burton versus Mary Lou McDonald Dáil clash today: Joan Burton.

The Tánaiste wasn’t in the chamber today as she was attending the funeral of Lorcán Miller, one of the Berkeley balcony collapse victims.

Labour colleague Alex White answered Leaders’ Questions in her absence.

McDonald seized on comments made by Burton in the Dáil yesterday, where she said social welfare fraudsters were essentially “giving two fingers to their neighbours“.

mary lou 15 june

From next week, the One-Parent Family Payment is being cut for single parents whose youngest child is over the age of seven.

McDonald accused Burton of backtracking, quoting comments she made in 2012 where she said the cut would not be implemented unless a Scandinavian-style model of childcare was introduced here.

“Such a system of childcare simply is not available,” McDonald said, stating the average cost of childcare is €167 per week and higher in Dublin.

alex white 25 june

Sinn Féin’s deputy leader said: “[Burton] should know that if anyone is guilty of giving two fingers to their neighbours it is, in fact, the Tánaiste.”

McDonald said the people primarily affected are women in low paid, insecure jobs, some of whom are on the poverty line.

The Dublin Central TD said it is “no wonder” certain Labour backbenchers are “up in arms” as some families will lose as much as €87 a week.

The aspirational talk about returning to work will not compensate these families and these women for a cut of that magnitude, that’s the bottom line here.

White defended the changes to the payment, saying it is about “social inclusion” and ending poverty and long-term welfare dependence.

He said some of the people affected by the changes are entitled to other grants and will receive help to find work.

White admitted he doesn’t think childcare here “is anything like what we want it to be”, noting Children’s Minister James Reilly has set up an interdepartmental group to look into the issue.

Read: Joan slams social welfare fraudsters for ‘giving two fingers to their neighbours’

Opinion: Today, our Government will condemn thousands of children to even deeper levels of poverty

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Órla Ryan

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