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16 October 2008 Edition

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Lenihan's twisted patriotism

“THIS is a recipe for emigration and Brian Lenihan will be standing at the airport to take €10 flight tax out of your pocket as you leave” was how Sinn Féin TD and Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caolain aptly summed up the initial reaction of many to the Budget.
This was a disastrous Budget. It will not stimulate the economy but will instead actively penalise work and spending. It doesn’t promote enterprise and it undermines the already precarious position of thousands of families enduring deprivation.
All the soundbites and hand-ringing about protecting the vulnerable came to nothing as even the lowest-paid workers will now have to fork out not just a 1 per cent tax levy but higher prices on everything they buy through the VAT increase.
Working families will be paying more tax. And Dublin’s commuter-belt workers driving daily to the city and suburbs will also have to pay 8 cent a litre more to do so because the absence of strategic investment in public transport means they are car dependent. For an average driver its adds up to €200 a year extra in extra tax on top of which they will now have to pay another €200 annually for the parking space needed for their cars. Wouldn’t it be easier to invest in the buses and trains that could take us to work daily?
Not in the mind of Brian Lenihan.
He has dipped deeply into our pockets through higher hospital charges, fewer Medical Cards, less money for new schools or social housing, reduced Child Benefit and below-inflation increases for welfare recipients and pensioners.
Every ordinary citizen is worse off as a result of this Budget.
Brian Cowen said this Budget is “a call to patriotic action”, but is it really a patriotic action that makes the poor and the old and low-wage families pay proportionally more to deal with Government failures?
And isn’t it interesting that although Brian Lenihan ignored the advice or requests of the ESRI, Focus Ireland, ICTU, St Vincent de Paul, the Carers’ Association, Barnardos, the Irish Cancer Society and many other socially-minded groups, he still found the room to meet the requests of the Construction Industry Federation for a cut in stamp duty on commercial property. We may have a new Finance Minister but it is the same old Fianna Fáil.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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