16 July 2009 Edition
Nuacht na nOibrithe
TDs claiming ministerial pensions slammed
SINN FÉIN Finance spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has severely criticised the Oireachtas Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Bill for allowing serving TDs in receipt of ministerial pensions to retain a massive proportion of their pensions.
Deputy Morgan accused members of the Oireachtas in receipt of ministerial pensions of feathering their nests while thousands of workers have lost their pensions completely.
“It is ironic that the Government congratulate themselves on their selflessness to cut 25% off a pension when people, after having paid pension contributions all their working lives, find that their pension benefits have dwindled. It is ironic that workers at pension age, the most vulnerable time of their lives, may not be able to claim from pension funds while Members of this very House are able to claim these ministerial pensions WHILE drawing a salary.
“Latching onto these pensions at the height of a severe recession, when 87,400 people have signed onto the Live Register since January alone is pathetic and frankly disgusting.”
Small fall in price index militates against wage cuts
THE small fall in the Consumer Price Index (excluding mortgage interest) of only 1.2% between May 2008 and May 2009 shows that wages cannot be cut without risking a complete collapse in consumer spending, Sinn Féin’s Arthur Morgan has said.
The figures being reported in the media – a 5.4% drop in July, down from a 4.7% drop in May, include mortgage interest which is naturally coming down based in ECB interest rate drops.
Arthur Morgan said:
“This CPI figure highlights a real problem – if wages are cut any more, we could be looking at a complete collapse in purchasing power which will precipitate further contraction in the economy.
“There is an agenda to drive down wages by short-sighted biased groups at the moment but they do this at their peril. If they succeed they will only see economic conditions in this country worsen – not improve.”
Education cuts sending society backwards
DELEGATES at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference in Tralee heard that gratuitous attacks on education budgets are sending society backwards.
IMPACT National Secretary Peter Nolan told delegates that if Ireland is to emerge from recession with strong foundations for economic recovery, education needs to be insulated. He said that the proposed reintroduction of third-level fees is another backward step as it freezes out students from low-income backgrounds.
“We don’t want to arrive at a situation where, post-recession, the education system has to be rebuilt from a low base. We have already seen how devastating that can be as our health sector has never truly recovered from the cuts of the 1980s, despite the intervening years of prosperity. If you destroy the foundations, you have nothing left to build on.”
He told delegates that children who fall through the education system experience a high rate of unemployment, a rate which is almost certain to get worse.
Quoting figures from a report by children’s charity Barnardos, he said that, in 2007, 53% of female early-school-leavers were unemployed, compared to 12% of those holding a Leaving Certificate.
“A society that truly cherishes all the children equally rightfully looks to reverse this distortion of equality. Instead of expanding essential services, current policy to make cuts guarantees the continued cycle of social disadvantage and everything that comes with it.”