Monday, April 13, 2009


Savage Budget Hits Most Vulnerable

Children, hospital patients, low and middle income earners, the unemployed and small businesses are just some of those who will acutely feel the "sting" of the Budget announced on Tuesday 7th April. It has been called "The Budget From Hell" by some, and been branded as "anti-family", with married couples with children on one income apparently shouldering most of the tax burden. Few people seem to have seen any evidence of the "fairness" which the Government said it attempted to demonstrate in this Budget.

Sinn Féin local election candidate Fergus Byrne has described the Budget as "an assault on the vulnerable, and a recipe for worsening recession and deeper depression". He said that it contained no jobs strategy, cruelly cut social welfare and would lead to more small businesses collapsing. He said that as a result of cuts the public health services are now facing disaster, and that the repercussions of the Budget would be painfully felt in Balbriggan and all North County Fingal towns and villages.

Byrne said: "It is difficult to know where to start when trying to analyse it, such is its severity and reach. The Government of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have imposed a savage Budget that attacks low and middle income earners, the unemployed and others dependent on social welfare. This Budget should have been about job retention and job creation. Instead we have no jobs strategy and an assault on young unemployed people, which will be disastrous for the local community. As for local businesses, it takes the last Euros from the pockets of their customers and condemns them to struggle or close down completely."

"The ending of the Christmas social welfare bonus is tantamount to cancelling Santa Claus for the children of the poorest families in our society, forcing some parents into the hands of money-lenders in order to give their children some semblance of Christmas cheer. The stupidity of the Government’s decision in this regard is evident when one considers that the Christmas social welfare bonus also serves to stimulate the struggling retail industry. To top that, the Early Childcare Supplement is being halved, and then abolished next year. The Government is promising a free Early Childcare & Education year for pre-school children, but we’ll believe it when we see it. Sinn Féin has long argued for direct State provision of childcare and investment in childcare infrastructure."

"On the subject of children, the cut in the school building programme is pure folly in terms of education, public spending and employment. Our local children will continue to be taught in overcrowded and sub-standard classrooms. The Government should be increasing and front-loading the Schools Building Programme as part of a job creation strategy, as proposed by Sinn Féin in our comprehensive employment retention and creation document ‘Getting Ireland Back to Work’."

"As for our public health services, one word springs to mind - catastrophe. The Government has placed an embargo on the filling of almost all posts in the public health service. The Irish Nurses Organisation and SIPTU have already indicated to the HSE that it will not be possible to run the public health service in the context of the recruitment embargo as announced by Government – where does that leave the people in our community when they need medical care?"

"This Government is going to all but destroy our local economy and families with low and middle income, thus exacerbating all of the social problems which accompany poverty. We’ll be driven back to the dreary and dreadful days of the 1970s and 1980s. Minister Lenihan, sickeningly, even blamed the people of Ireland for contributing to the recession by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty – something which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the economic crisis! To add insult to injury, Minister Lenihan said in a radio phone-in that people who have travelled to the North to do their shopping have left the Government with no option but to increase tax! That doesn’t even deserve to be dignified with a reply, except to say that perhaps if the border wasn’t there in the first place we wouldn’t be in quite such a dire economic mess with the money which could be saved from not having the administrative duplications which constantly happen as a result of having two jurisdictions on the one island."

"This Government hopelessly mismanaged the country’s finances during the boom years. For instance, we in Sinn Féin warned that the housing market was unsustainable. Between 1998 and 2003 the price of a new house in this State rose on average by 177% so that even people on above average incomes could not afford a home, and if they could it was usually far away from the towns they grew up in and would like to have remained. Many bought in Balbriggan and surrounding areas at the height of the property boom and now find themselves in negative equity, AND with their mortgage interest relief being taken away after 7 years! Also being slashed is the rent supplement for those dependent on private rented accommodation but with no corresponding increase in social housing provision – the opposite in fact, as the budget for social housing is being cut as well."

"I have little doubt that Fianna Fáil and the Greens are reserving the worst of their social welfare cuts for the December budget, after they have faced the people in the local and EU Parliament elections. But the people in our community are not easily fooled. They know what’s coming, including an assault on Child Benefit."

"Sinn Féin’s pre-budget submission identified over €3 billion in money raised and saved. These proposals show that there were other options but these options were not taken as they would mean that those earning the most would pay their fair share. If the government chose our options, we would build twice as many schools, protect investment in roads and social housing, increase spending on broadband and create a €300 million job retention fund to keep workers in work and away from the dole queues. Sinn Féin were among those who proposed alternative, fairer ways, to create wealth and to share wealth. It’s time for new ideas and real leadership. Let those in the Government see what it’s like to be unemployed for a change!"

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