Labour TD Colm Keaveney votes against Social Welfare Bill

Friday 14 December 2012 08.10
1 of 2
Colm Keaveney tweeted 'Acta non verba', Latin for 'deeds not words'
Colm Keaveney tweeted 'Acta non verba', Latin for 'deeds not words'
Carers protested outside the Dáil this morning
Carers protested outside the Dáil this morning

Labour Chairman and TD Colm Keaveney is to be expelled from the parliamentary party after voting against the Social Welfare Bill.

In a tweet just before the walk-through vote in the Dáil, he tweeted "Acta non verba", Latin for "deeds not words".

Protesters gathered outside the Dáil as voting took place.

The final walk through vote was 93 votes for to 53 against, and the bill has now gone to the Seanad after passing all stages in the Dáil.

Mr Keaveney said he took the decision to vote against the Budget because he wanted to keep to his principles and stay faithful to his constituency.

He said he had spoken to Labour leader Eamon Gilmore before the Budget to outline his misgivings, but agreed to wait until the details became clearer.

"Since the first leaks emerged on Budget 2013 I have had deep misgivings on aspects of the Budget in relation to the changes to PRSI, to child benefit, to respite grants and to the overall regressive nature of the budget in terms of income.

"Since Monday of last week I have been working to overturn the more odious aspects of this budget.

"I simply cannot vote in favour of measures that will have such a negative effect on working families, particularly given the regressive nature of the hits proposed."

It would have been better if the two coalition parties had left their ideology at the door when they entered the Budget negotiations, he said.

Mr Keaveney said he was alarmed after learning that one party tried to take it out on the most vulnerable, as he put it, during the wrangle over higher USC levels for the better off.

Asked whether he would step down as Labour Party chair, Mr Keaveney replied "absolutely not".

'Need to restore financial stability'

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton told the Dáil that the €20.2bn budget for her department was a big spend and while she would like it to be more, financial stability needed to be restored.

Earlier, there were robust exchanges when Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald withdrew an accusation she had made that Mr Gilmore had lied about social welfare cuts.

While debating the Respite Care Grant, Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh described the reduction from €1,700 to €1375 annually as an odious measure with far reaching consequences.

United Left Alliance TD Joan Collins said the proposal would see carers leaving their loved ones into accident and emergency departments because they would no longer be able to look after them.

Fianna Fáil's Willie O'Dea told Ms Burton that the best thing to do when one had made a mistake is to admit it and move on.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Labour Party of deceiving the people of the country in promising to protect Child Benefit before the general election.

He asked why protecting tax rates for those on an income of over €100,000 was more important than the Labour pledge to protect Child Benefit.

Mr Gilmore accused Fianna Fáil of having a hard neck. He told Mr Martin that Fianna Fáil's legacy to this country was to bring in the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Gilmore said this Government’s legacy will be to take them out of the country.

He said that the Budget was tough and difficult, but he said it was necessary to bring about the recovery that his party said it would bring about at the general election.

Mr Martin asked the Tánaiste if he recalled the slogan "Frankfurt's way or Labour's way".

The Tánaiste told him he was suffering from withdrawal after 14 years in government, during which Fianna Fáil squandered the boom and put the country into hock.

He said the basic rate of social welfare had not been cut.