The poor take up for the special payment in respect of religious ceremonies in Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal has led to the abolition to the grant nationally.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Bruton said “When the former staff of the HSE, the community welfare officers, came into the Department of Social Protection about a year and a half ago they pointed out that in the North West - Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim - such payments were almost unknown.”
Figures she provided to TDs showed that almost 30,000 had been helped by the scheme since 2010. However in 2011, a total only 25 payments for expenses which arose from these religious ceremonies were paid in the north west, while there were 5,600 payments in the east of the country during the same period.
The average grant paid in the east was €300 per child.
The Minister told the Dail last week that the Government will provide €47.6 million to meet all exceptional once-off payments to parents and children - down from €52 million last year. These grants will be paid where people ‘’could not reasonably be expected’’ to meet unforeseen expenditure out of their weekly income, the Minister told the Dail.
The abolition of the Communion grant will achieve annual savings of €1.5 million.