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Burton's Social Protection department spend €5k of public money on party

The party for retired staff was held a few weeks before Budget cuts were announced, it was revealed today.

Updated 8.15pm

PUBLIC MONEY WAS used to fund a party held by the Department of Social Protection in the weeks before the Budget announcement, with €2,990 going on food and drinks alone.

In total, more than €5,000 was spent on the party, Ken Foxe revealed in the Mail on Sunday through documents that showed that the annual retirement get-together for ex-staff members was held on 31 October.

The documents also showed that €1,000 was spent on spot prizes, with €7.50 spent on coat hangers and €150 paid to an organist. The postage for invitations sent out for the event cost just under €700.

(Pic: Ken Foxe)

According to the paper, the Department said that it had tried to restrict expenditure as it was appreciative of the current economic climate.

The information was revealed days after Social Protection Minister Joan Burton’s controversial Social Welfare Bill moved to its third stage in the Dáil, where amendments to it will have to be voted upon.

The changes include a cut to the annual Respite Care Grant and child benefit, and an increase in PRSI contributions.

Today it emerged that the Seanad could put a 90-day block on the government’s Budget plans as it could see rejection from opposition members when the chamber debates it for three days this week.

Limerick-based Senator James Heffernan said today he had concerns about the cuts to child benefit, and was not going to “be strong-armed or bullied into voting one way or the other”. He and several other Labour senators are to meet with senior Labour ministers this week to discuss their grievances before they decide how they might vote.

Read: Social Welfare Bill passes in Dáil, moves to committee stage>

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