July 2011        

The degeneracy of the Labour Party—in or out of government

“While I do not propose to reduce our generous social welfare rates, it is unfortunate that a series of other bonuses have been introduced for those in receipt of social welfare payments. Free travel and electricity, rent allowance, mortgage subsidies, medical cards and so forth make it difficult for recipients of social welfare to take up employment. They are one of the reasons for the large number of people who are in long-term unemployment. If new charges, for example water rates or property taxes, are introduced, social welfare recipients should not be automatically exempted from paying them, as to do so would make it even more difficult for people on social welfare to take up a job . . .
     “Many things were done wrong in the past. People on social welfare benefit from free schemes attached to social welfare and do not have to make certain payments. We may have another impending crisis with regard to water rates and a property tax. An argument might be made that people on social welfare should not have to pay these. This will make it twice as difficult for a person on social welfare to be motivated to go to work. The same person on social welfare is probably better off than somebody on the minimum wage.
     “Fraud in social welfare is rife. Senator Moloney mentioned photo ID, which is a great idea; but I do not know why we do not consider fingerprinting all the citizens of the country. Any law-abiding citizen would be quite willing to be fingerprinted with regard to claiming social welfare. If a person is law-abiding there will be no issue with this.”

Senator John Kelly (Labour Party), debate on Social Welfare and Pensions Bill (2011), second stage, Seanad Éireann, 23 June 2011.

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