ImageTo the rescue? Willie O’ Dea TD with FF colleagues Timmy Dooley TD (left) and Niall Collins TD

Now that the Seanad debate is out of the way, let us get back to other matters. I’ve been banging on here, and in the Irish Independent, about the continuous daft notions that Minister Joan Burton has been coming up with which frighten the life out of small businesses and entrepreneurs, the people who are supposed to be creating jobs and helping our recovery, while all the while she retains the ‘welfare traps’ which are keeping people on Joan’s very expensive (for taxpayers) world of welfare benefits. I’ve been calling for Fine Gael’s Five a Side group to speak up on this (and they have been, but not enough) and for Lucinda Creighton’s Reform Alliance of FG rebels to do so- and in fairness their member, Denis Naughten TD, put in a strong performance on RTE’s Prime Time two weeks ago when he spoke passionately in support of the small business community in rural Ireland (TV link below). He had some ideas but often what we are getting are just statements and not proposals

So it was heartening to see Fianna Fail come to the fore this week, with a critical statement from Willie O’Dea TD and a very interesting policy document on those very welfare traps which are preventing people from taking up work because they would lose their benefits and rent allowances etc. Bear in mind, despite these traps and their effect on job creation and on small businesses, nothing has been done about them by Minister Burton, just as nothing has been done to bring down her crippling welfare spend by 440 m as requested by the Government programme, and the Troika. Nor have FG been especially vocal about them.

This not the first time that Fianna Fail, and Willie O’Dea in particular, has spoken out on this. He also spoke out a week or so back when Burton floated a balloon about a change in the PRSI charges for the self-employed- a proposal that caused consternation among the self-employed and small businesses. It was the same a year or so ago, when we had Burton’s mooted change to the sick pay law whereby employers would have to pay the full whack where the State used to pick up half. All of last summer, this was left hanging, until it was finally taken off the table. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said little to clarify things and only FF’s Dara Calleary spoke out about the confusion and about the proposal itself. Granted, the Government is doing a lot for small business creation with seed funding and other grants, but not nearly enough is being done to remove the clear obstacles or change the adverse conditions in which business has to function. So it seems that it is to Fianna Fail that we must turn to see a decent defence of small business, retailers and hard pressed taxpayers, as well as a tackling of the job-killing ‘welfare traps’ of Joan Burton, a Minister who seems to get an inexplicable good press despite the mess she has made of so-called ‘welfare reform.’ And let us hope that we will see more of this from Fianna Fail, as I said last Tuesday to Michael Martin in the RTE green room after the Prime Time Seanad TV debate.


Pictured, with JFK : Former FF leader and Taoiseach Sean Lemass – a great champion of business and job creation

After all, the reality is that, despite the recent crisis, Fianna Fail still has a valuable role to play on all this stuff politically, including and especially on economic matters and when the party takes a welcome policy initiative like Willie O’Dea’s, with specific proposals, it is particularly to be welcomed. Such ideas are, after all, totally in keeping with the Fianna Fail party’s long history of support for entrepreneurs and small business.

Link to Willie O’Dea’s statement on ‘welfare traps’ ;

Policy document:

How bad are the welfare traps that are preventing people from working? Just take a look:

Excellent piece by Cormac Lucey in the Irish Daily Mail on the issue:

This is me on welfare traps on RTE’s Prime Time on 17 Sept. The debate could have done with some political party participation – it was the midweek of the annual party think-ins – and the involvement of the Minister Joan Burton but the programme makers promise me they will return to this important issue in the future for a fuller discussion.

And this is the report on small business and rural Ireland, on a different Prime Time, 26 Sept, with Denis Naughten TD of the Reform Alliance making a strong case for the sector:

Earlier blog link of mine on Dara Calleary TD, FF and small business