19 November 2009 Edition
Another View by Eoin Ó Broin
‘The Poor Can’t Pay’
ON 9 December – Budget Day in the 26 Counties – the Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government has a choice to make.
Will it make the bankers, developers and super-rich pay for the economic mess, or will it punish the working poor and those in receipt of social welfare?
Last August, a coalition of the state’s leading NGOs and trade unions launched a campaign aimed at forcing the Government to make the right choice. Called, ‘The Poor Can’t Pay’, the campaign opposes any reductions in the minimum wage, the basic rate of social welfare, or child benefit, and for the reintroduction of the Christmas social welfare payment.
Initially involving Barnardos, Focus Ireland, Age Action, the National Women’s Council, European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland, the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, St Vincent de Paul (SVP), Social Justice Ireland, and trade unions Mandate, SIPTU and Unite, the campaign now has 30 organisations supporting its demands.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, John Mark McCafferty of SVP said:
“Many commentators say it is inevitable that basic social welfare payments and the minimum wage must be cut. Cuts to welfare payments will mean people going without food or essential healthcare, children getting no presents at Christmas and pensioners wondering if they can afford to keep the heat on.”
McCafferty asked whether these people “should be forced to pay the cost of the economic crisis”.
Since its launch, ‘The Poor Can’t Pay’ have launched a website with detailed briefing papers on a range of issues, providing facts and figures on the impact cuts to the minimum wage or social welfare would have on people.
They have also co-ordinated two online lobby campaigns directed at the Government. To date, 4,500 e-mails calling on the Government to protect those on low incomes have been sent to ministers and TDs.
‘The Poor Can’t Pay’ website also contains many robust argument against claims such as our social welfare system is too generous, our minimum wage is undermining competitiveness, and the cost of living has dropped and that the country can no longer afford the bill.
In the October 2008 Budget and the April 2009 Supplementary Budget, the Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government has already introduced significant cuts to social welfare payments. Any further cuts will increase poverty and hardship for hundreds and thousands of people.
As Sinn Féin demonstrated on Monday of this week in its pre-Budget submission, there are more appropriate ways of addressing the hole in our public finances.
Arthur Morgan TD outlined over €7 billion available to the Government through ending wastage in public spending, ending tax breaks for the rich and raising tax on wealth.
None of the Sinn Féin proposals would negatively affect people on low or middle incomes. Nor would they jeopardise vital frontline public services.
The pre-Budget submission also contained proposals for job creation and family stimulus packages, aimed at getting people back to work and ensuring that low-income families are not driven further into poverty.
Unfortunately, the Government seems intent on making the poor pay for the Government’s economic mistakes. If you don’t agree then log on to www.thepoorcantpay.ie/ takeaction and give them a piece of your mind.
An Phoblacht Magazine
AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:
- The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
- It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
- There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.