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Government cut backs must not impact on most vulnerable

10 July, 2008 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking during today's Dáil debate on the economy Sinn Féin Dublin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh criticised the government for withdrawing €45 million from the overseas development aid budget, sought detailed data on how the 3% salary cuts will affect garda resources and operations tackling serious drug and gun crime. The Deputy also emphasised the need for investment in critical infrastructure such as urban regeneration projects in Dublin and Limerick to be protected.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"The cutbacks announced by government on Tuesday were scant in detail, economically and fiscally short sighted, and do not address the fundamental contractions in the economy. Refusing to link investment in public services with GDP as is the practice in other European countries is a serious factor in the states deficiencies in public infrastructure - in school buildings, hospitals, social housing and public transport.

"Government has left the Exchequer in an unenviable position of being precariously over dependent on revenue from consumption and construction. This is the reason that we are experiencing such an acute decline in public finances.

"Despite all the obvious failures to date in managing the public purse this government appears intent on continuing its record of bad practice. Assertions that the most vulnerable will not bear the brunt of the proposed cuts are not credible. Experience tells us otherwise.

"Development Minister Peter Power has defended the clawing back by government of €45 million allocated to overseas development aid. He has justified this government's decision by stating we have reached our overseas aid target for 2008. This is an appalling tack to take considering the global food crisis that is hitting hardest the developing world. If there is extra in the overseas aid kitty then it should go to whom it was intended.

"With regard to how government cuts will affect public services here in this state, scant detail has been given with respect to how the government will achieve €440 million in 'savings'. How exactly will the 3% cut in pay roll costs be achieved in the various departments - what impacts will this have on service delivery?

"How for example will the 3% affect the numbers of Gardai on the street and the provision of support services to tackle drug addiction? Will Garda overtime be further cut? If so this is a major decision which will have serious consequences, critical operations such as Operation Anvil are dependent on overtime.

"Cutbacks in key economic and social infrastructure projects will result in the period of recession we are now experiencing being prolonged. Infrastructure has a critical economic and productivity value and must be protected and in turn delivered. The social cost of not doing so is immeasurable.

"Regeneration plans for the worst off areas in Dublin city are already falling apart and the publishing of the master plan for regeneration projects in Limerick have already been delayed, which does not bode well for delivery of the projects themselves. My Limerick colleague Maurice Quinlivan is meeting with the Limerick Regeneration Boards today and he too will be seeking a commitment for the delivery of these projects on budget and on time.

"Government have squandered the good years so they must now more than ever ensure they manage properly the difficult ones." ENDS

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