Tuesday 20 August 2019

Row over Byrne's 'Fascist thugs' jibe

Cllr Deirdre Wadding
Cllr Deirdre Wadding
Cllr Willie Fitzharris

A row broke out at the meeting after Cllr Malcolm Byrne described the anti austerity protestors who verbally abused Minister Brendan Howlin and Cllr George Lawlor as 'Fascist thugs'.

Tempers had been flaring all afternoon between councillors and especially during a debate on lone parent allowance cuts, which immediately preceded the remark. Cllr Byrne said Minister Howlin is entitled to his privacy while he has lunch. Describing the protestors as 'sinister elements' in Irish politics, he said: 'When a government minister can't have dinner in private without being attacked by a group of Fascist thugs, where is politics going.'

Trying to cool matters, Chairman Cllr Tony Dempsey said: 'We are very close to having tea ourselves,' as the clock ticked towards 4 p.m. break time. People Before Profit Cllr Deirdre Wadding objected to the term 'Fascist thugs'.

She said: 'Those are the ones sitting inside the Dáil making decisions that have decimated lives. I do not stand over violence or abuse but I can understand why people are angry.'

Cllr James Browne brought a motion calling on Wexford County Council to 'deplore' the recent cuts to the lone parents allowance 'and the failure of Tánaiste Joan Burton to fulfil her promise to deliver an affordable "Scandinavian model" of childcare, which would encourage and facilitate lone parents to participate fully in employment or education before making such cuts.' Cllr Wadding described the cut as the most dispicable the government has devised to date.

'It affects 30,000 families. These parents have been working around 19 hours per week. Now they'll have to get a full time job, but where will their children go when they are at work. We will have a whole new group of people on Job Bridge.'

Cllr Willie Fitzharris said he has been involved in childcare over the past 30 years.

'In recent years there has been a huge increase in funding coming from the present government who should be complimented for putting childcare on a firm footing with providing, for the first time, the free school year.'

Cllr Hynes said it is the 'unkindest cut', adding that it is outrageous that a woman implemented it.

Cllr Kathleen Codd Nolan asked him what the alternative was, but the debate stopped there.

Wexford People

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