In a sharp reduction, the Irish Government is placing a cap of €110 on welfare families that are able to receive for their children’s First Holy Communion and Confirmations expenses. The cap, a marked decrease from the 2011 average payout of €303, comes in response to extravagant spending in certain areas of the country.
The Irish Times reports that a review of the welfare payouts, which was conducted by community welfare officers (CWOs), found that a whopping total of €3.4 million was paid out last year to families in need for religious occasions.
It was announced today by the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, that the cap would now be set at €110, citing that the funds provided are intended for expenses that could not be foreseen.
“They [the fees] are designed to meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenses," a spokeswoman told Reuters.
Make-up, spray tans and fake nails for the girls celebrating their First Communion or Confirmation account for some of the extra, and mostly unnecessary, costs added to the events.
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“In the Dublin area the practice had grown up where the average payment was over €300,” said Burton. Areas west and south of Dublin did not see such high payouts.
In fact, some 5,000 payouts were made in the Dublin area, while only 25 were made in the total of Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim, reports The Irish Times. Burton made the point that more extravagant religious ceremonies were a more Eastern county tradition as opposed to the Western ones.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said that the guidelines for the welfare had not been reviewed since 1995, and that alterations would be made in order to reflect the realities of 2012.
“There are parts of the country where the application of the payments varies," added Gilmore.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald criticized Burton’s reviews, stating that she believed they were all a part of Burton’s crusade against the poor of Ireland.