Sinn Féin - On Your Side

People power works - Budget Protests to be held this weekend

24 October, 2008

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has today announced details of protests which will take place at the constituency offices of government ministers this weekend. She invited people in communities across the island to join the protests and keep the pressure up on the government to reverse unjust budget cuts.

Ms. McDonald also urged the Government reflect maturely on the decision to increase class sizes and to reverse the attacks on our children's education. She went on to call on all Dáil deputies put party politics to one side and vote in support of next week's private members motion to reverse the Government decision on class sizes.

Ms. McDonald said, "The government has lost the confidence of the electorate. They have no strategy for economic recovery. Their budget was a complete mess and is now unravelling before their eyes. The 30,000 people who protested outside of the Dáil this week is only the tip of the iceberg. There is no support for the savage cuts which they are trying to force through.

"These cuts are not necessary. The government has other choices. They could have raised up to &euro1billion by making all discretionary tax relief schemes available only at the standard rate. They could have raised &euro334million by getting rid of the PRSI ceiling, something supported by government departments. They could have ended tax breaks for private hospitals. They could have accessed the National Pension Reserve Fund for key infrastructure projects.

"The fact is that when it came to the hard choices Fianna Fáil and the Green Party thought that the easiest targets would be pensioners, children and working families. There were few hard choices for those at the top end of the scale.

"Earlier this week the government was forced to back down some of the way. It is still not enough - universal access to the medical card should be restored to all over 70s and the income levy should only be applied to income earned above &euro38,000.

"The senior citizens showed that people power works. Now we need to keep up the pressure and fight the many other savage cuts. On Saturday Sinn Féin will be holding protests at the constituency offices of Government Ministers and I want to invite people the length and breadth of Ireland to join with us and get unjust budget cuts reversed.

"Opposition to the cuts in the education sector is now gathering a head of steam. The Government must re-look at the decision to increase class sizes. This move will have a detrimental impact on the education of our children and will result in Ireland having the largest class sizes in the EU. And, as I already outlined, it is completely unnecessary.

"I would urge the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Education to look at this issue with the best interests of our children paramount in their minds. The decision to increase class sizes was a mistake and they must maturely accept this and reverse this attack on children's education.

"My Sinn Féin colleagues in the Dáil will be supporting the Private Members Motion to reverse this decision in the Dáil next week and I would call on all deputies to put party politics to one side on this issue and vote to in support of the children of the state." ENDS

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