“When Labour came into Government, our goal was straightforward but the job of achieving it incredibly difficult – rescuing Ireland from the worst economic crisis it had ever known. The rescue effort was incredibly painful for many people, but at all times, Labour prioritised the protection of the most vulnerable in society. We protected core welfare rates when other countries in similar difficulties were slashing theirs. We maintained a social welfare safety net that is the most effective in Europe at preventing poverty. A particular focus of mine was protecting the State pension, in light of the massive contribution older people have made to our society. We achieved that, and now that the recovery is gaining momentum, we have the resources to invest again.
In the last Budget, we restored a Christmas Bonus for pensioners, people with disabilities, and persons living alone. We also increased Child Benefit for every family. And I intend to increase it again in the next Budget. The recovery effort was incredibly difficult, and it has been your sacrifices, your perseverance in the face of uphill struggle, that have enabled us to get to this point. The point where we’ve reached the brow of the hill and can see our destination – an Ireland of opportunity and prosperity for all. We have not reached that destination yet. But it’s in sight and within reach. And working together, we’ll get there.”