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‘I thought you’d learn it this weekend’ – heated exchange in Dáil as Prime Minister Simon Harris criticizes Mary Lou McDonald over election results

Harris told that channel clearing and benefit cuts for Ukrainians and asylum seekers are ‘weapons of mass distraction’

He said people want politicians to find solutions to social problems, adding to Ms McDonald: “I thought you’d learn that this weekend.”

Harris told the Sinn Féin leader not to come to the Dáil chamber with her “one scene of performative outrage” and “let’s get to the heart of the issue” while she approached him about support for special schools.

He previously complained that Sinn Féin leader ‘Mary Lou’ was explaining to me’ the issue of providing respite care for children with special needs.

Harris said he knew all about it because his own family had benefited from the schools’ July benefits and promised to make the area a priority as prime minister.

He also criticized Holly Cairns, leader of the Social Democrats, who said “people aren’t buying it” with promises to improve care. He said people had a chance to speak out over the weekend.

“Many people voted for my party and also for coalition parties,” he said. He added that over 53 percent the electorate supported the candidates of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

However, Paul Murphy of Solidarity-People Before Profit said Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil actually lost votes in the local elections, telling Harris: “Pride comes before a fall.”

He said channel clearing and cuts to social benefits for Ukrainians and asylum seekers were “weapons of mass distraction.” This set a trap that Sinn Féin unfortunately fell into, he said.

Harris said there would be a general election in due course and he looked forward to it. He said he was not sure whether Sinn Féin was part of Murphy’s plan for a new left-wing alternative government.

“They will determine it after checking,” he said. Harris said he was a politician of the center and a functioning immigration system would be established, which would be fair.

“This party is not nasty and this is not a nasty government,” he said, telling Mr. Murphy: “Good luck next time.”

Murphy said the government spent €100,000 clearing tents when empty beds could have been provided. “This is an extremely cynical policy.”

Mrs McDonald was raising children with special needs, and research by Family Carers Ireland found that 72 per cent of families had never received respite. She cited case histories, including one case in which a boy had not received the “July benefit” since 2019. The program provides him with the socialization and stimulation he needs, she said.

Mrs Cairns agreed, saying: “People are not interested in the Punch and Judy program that often takes place in this house. They are not interested in petty political boasts or politics that favors substantive statements over substance.”

The Family Carers Ireland report was shocking, she said – carers are struggling to make ends meet and their loved ones receive no formal support.

“Nearly 50 percent have had to pay privately for products or services that should have been publicly available to them,” she said.