Joan Burton calls for full restoration of Christmas bonus for people on social welfare

Former Labour leader also appears to defend salary increases for TDs

joan burton

Joan Burton at a Labour think-in in Dublin's Mansion House last month | Photo:

Joan Burton has called for the full restoration of the Christmas bonus ahead of tomorrow's budget announcement.

The bonus for social welfare recipients was abolished by Fianna Fáil in 2009 but restored by 75% last year.

In an interview with George Hook, the former Labour leader said a further increase would help people to stay out of debt.

"For people who really are relying on social welfare, pensions or the carer’s allowance, a little bit of additional money to spend for Christmas keeps people like moneylenders at bay," she said.

"Roughly half our social welfare goes to people who are retired, widowed or have a long-term disability, and for a variety of reasons, they’re not really in a position to work full-time.

"There are quite a lot of people who really rely on social welfare."

Ms Burton also appeared to defend a forthcoming pay hike for Oireachtas members, pointing out that it was part of the Lansdowne Road Agreement

The move will mean TD salaries will rise from €87,258 to €89,965 in April 2017, and by the same amount again the following year. 

"The alternative is to go back to the old system, which was worse," the Dublin West TD said.

"If you recall, when Bertie Ahern was taoiseach, there were special advisory groups who advised on salaries for TDs and ministers, or Charlie McCreevy often made decisions himself, and that is what drove a lot of increases.

"Now TDs and ministers are on a civil service rate for the job."

Listen back to the full interview here: