I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 239 together.
My priority for the year ahead is to make significant progress in delivering on the social welfare commitments contained in the programme for Government, Sustaining Progress and the national anti-poverty strategy. Resources will be targeted on helping those most in need in order, not alone to raise their standard of living, but to ensure that everyone is a valued citizen who can make his or own individual contribution to society regardless of his or her particular circumstances.
This will include initiatives relating to: older people who were central to the building of the new Ireland and who want to spend their later years in security; children who, given the right chances, will provide a strong and vigorous basis for this countries future; the thousands of carers throughout the country who selflessly sacrifice so much of their lives to look after loved ones; widows and widowers who have had to face many difficulties; people with disabilities who struggle against great personal odds and are an example to all; and all those others who experience a range of contingencies and who require income and other supports at various difficult stages of their lives.
Throughout my career in public life, my goal has been clear. I have fought to sustain economic progress so that we could do something positive with it for all in society. That is the purpose of economic growth. I will do my utmost, in my new role, to make a difference to the lives of the people around the country who depend on our social welfare system.