Fine Gael distances itself from councillor’s comments that child benefit can be a ‘subsidy to have sex’
26th May 2021
FINE GAEL HAS distanced itself from comments made by a party councillor who claimed paying child benefit to high earners is like a “subsidy for them to have sex”.© Screengrab Twitter Fine Gael has said that the Councillor’s views are not consistent with party policy.
Councillor and deputy mayor of South Dublin County Council, David McManus initially made his comments on a podcast for the Tallaght Echo newspaper but today defended his comments on Newstalk Breakfast.
Defending his words, he said they were “evocative and a figure of speech”. He added that the comments “may cause offence, but that was not my intention”.
“But I believe it’s a valid point that welfare payments should be going to those who really, really need it.”
He said child benefit is an “essential benefit” for low and middle-income families, but said “money is scarce” and it should be targeted at those who really need it.
The comments did not go down well with some within his own party, with Senator Regina Doherty tweeting:
“Whatever about subsidies, no brain cells were taxed coming to this conclusion.”
Fine Gael Lucan Councillor Vicki Casserly said she was “disgusted” by the comments.
A spokesperson for the Fine Gael Party told The Journal in a statement:
“Cllr McManus’ views are not consistent with Fine Gael policy. Fine Gael supports, and has always supported, universal child benefit.
“Our party leader, Leo Varadkar, confirmed his commitment to the universal nature of the payment when he was Minister for Social Protection in the last Government, and at that time Fine Gael reversed the cuts to the Child Benefit that had been implemented after the economic crash.”
The statement went on to say that the universal nature of the payment is an important principle to ensure all children receive it equally.
“It is also an important payment for the economic independence of women given that it is paid directly to the mother,” said the spokesperson.
They added that the government is committed to reducing the cost of childcare, adding that child benefit is important to note that it is just one part of the overall package of supports for families who are at risk of poverty.