Donegal Deputy Pearse Doherty says the government does not comprehend the extent of people struggling this Christmas.
Around 3,000 people of all ages queued up outside the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin yesterday morning to receive vouchers to buy food that will get them through the Christmas period.
Deputy Doherty said the scenes yesterday are just the tip of the iceberg as more and more households are falling into poverty every day.
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance said that while the nameplates in the Taoiseach’s office and Department of Finance have changed this week, the government’s stale policies have remained the same.
Deputy Doherty was responding to comments from the new Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath, who today admitted the government has no plans to introduce additional measures to support people at risk of falling into poverty.
Teachta Doherty said: “In a first world and wealthy state, we have 3,000 people of all ages queuing outside the Capuchin Centre to receive a €50 gift card to help them through Christmas, while distraught parents are ringing St Vincent de Paul and other charities because they simply cannot cope this winter.
“At a time when people are really struggling, we have a revolving door in both the Taoiseach’s office and in the Department of Finance between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – two parties joined at the hip, out of ideas, and offering no new solutions.
“The nameplates might have changed but the policies remain the same.
“More and more households are falling into poverty every day. The government does not comprehend the extent of those struggles.
“The new Minister of Finance, Michael McGrath, offered no hope to struggling households when interviewed today, and no hope to our young people who feel they have no option but to emigrate to seek a better life.
“People need support. People need hope,” he said.
Deputy Doherty continued: “We need to ensure our Social Protection system protects people from poverty, so that they do not have to go to food banks or queue for food vouchers.
“We are now really seeing the effects of the government waiting until January to raise payment rates by €12 per week, which because of the current rates of inflation, is still a cut in real terms.
“This government has opposed Sinn Féin solutions to provide relief and certainty during the cost of living crisis at every turn – ignoring proposals to protect renters by banning rent increases, to make home ownership more affordable and to cap the cost of energy.
“All the indications from the new Taoiseach and new Minister for Finance are to expect more of the same.
“It is clear that people don’t need a change in Taoiseach or a change of Finance Minister, what they need is a change of government.
“They need a government that would put workers, families, and communities first
“They need a government that would do what is necessary to improve their lives by fixing a broken housing system, by tackling the crisis in our hospitals, and by working to build a fairer, sustainable, modern economy.”