LIMERICK families mourning the loss of a loved one received an average payment of â‚¬1,500 to cover funeral expenses from community welfare officers last year, according to the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.
These were exceptional needs payments to bereaved people in the â€œdistressful situationâ€ of â€œhaving very limited meansâ€, the minister said in response to Deputy Willie Oâ€™Deaâ€™s attack on the abolition of the bereavement grant of â‚¬850.
But Deputy Oâ€™Dea said he was aware that the budget for exceptional needs payments had been cut and that community welfare officers were referring people to St Vincent de Paul.
The cost of funerals in Limerick stood at â‚¬5,000 and rising, Deputy Oâ€™Dea said, and needy families who had received both the bereavement grant and a top-up welfare payment could still not cover the total bill.
And the Limerick TD poured scorn on Ruairi Quinnâ€™s comments that there wasnâ€™t enough competition in the funeral business.
â€œObviously, the Minister for Education envisages that on becoming a widow or a widower, a person will hold a tendering process and invite undertakers to make competitive bids,â€ said Deputy Oâ€™Dea.