Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Budget still not a done deal – Ó Caoláin

8 December, 2010 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Speaking in the Dáil on Budget 2011, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin was still not a done deal and could be defeated. He appealed to those TDs who had hitherto supported the Government to act in the national interest and to vote against the Social Welfare Bill tomorrow (Thursday). He also called on Fine Gael and Labour to pledge to reverse what he called a “cruel and savage” Budget.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

“This Budget has launched a further all-out attack on people dependent on social welfare and the slashing of the minimum wage is to follow next March.

“The result of this cruel Budget will be poverty and unemployment and social misery. The cuts to social welfare are savage and it is people on social welfare who are going to bear the brunt of this Budget.

“Jobseekers Allowance has been reduced by €8 to €188 per week for those over 25. For people between 22 and 25 years of age the rate drops by €6 per week to €144. In a Budget with no jobs strategy the Government’s message to the unemployed – and especially the young unemployed is very clear: ‘Subsist on less or emigrate.’

“In Budget 2010 the Government’s cruellest cut was to carers. People on Carer’s Allowance lost €8.50 per week and those on Carer’s Benefit lost €8.20. It’s reckoned that over 160,000 family carers provide over 3.7 million hours of care each week. On top of those heartless cuts we now have in Budget 2011 another €8 per week cut in Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit. That’s a weekly cut of €16.50 and €16.20 in the space of just over a year. It is an absolute disgrace.

“The Government has attempted to portray the tax changes in this Budget as reforming and progressive. They are nothing of the sort. There is no wealth tax. There is no new higher rate for those with individual incomes of over €100,000 per annum. In Sinn Féin’s economic recovery plan ‘There is a Better Way’ we show that such a new top rate of 48% would raise €410 million – well in excess of the €397 million the Government is slashing from social welfare for people of working age in this Budget.

“Health cuts of €765 million in 2011 will, I believe, result in bad outcomes and even the deaths of patients across the system. There are currently over 1500 beds in our public hospitals already closed due to cuts. The further cuts in this Budget will close hundreds, if not thousands more beds. If the Government had capped the salaries of public servants at €100,000 this would have saved €350 million for the State per year – nearly half of what is being cut out of the Health budget.

“We call on Fine Gael and Labour to commit to reversing these Budget cuts and rejecting the IMF-EU sell-out deal.

“For our part, we in Sinn Féin are quire clear. We have rejected the Consensus for Cuts. We have put forward a fairer, better way to real economic recovery.

“This Budget is still not a done deal. The four-year plan is not a done deal. And the IMF-EU sell-out is not completed either. If there is anyone with a shred of conscience left among those who have hitherto supported this Fianna Fáil-Green Government then now is the time for them to act in the true national interest.

“And the national interest is also the interest of the people of Tipperary and Kerry and every other county and constituency. Tomorrow the Government will try to force through the Social Welfare Bill with its savage cuts to the incomes of the most vulnerable. Let those who speak of the national interest reject this Bill, reject this Budget and reject this Government.”

FULL TEXT FOLLOWS

Budget 2011 – Statements of Party Leaders 8.12.10

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Sinn Féin Dáil leader


This is a disastrous Budget. It is an anti-people, anti-democratic Budget.
This Budget is the product of a sell-out of Irish sovereignty to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

It is an effort by a totally discredited Government with no mandate, in its dying days, to impose a Thatcherite economic strategy on the people.
The result of this cruel strategy will be even more poverty and unemployment and social misery.

It is an attack on the mass of the people who are on low to middle incomes, with those most vulnerable to be injured the most.

The wealthy are to escape yet again. And all to bail out bank bond-holders and to do the bidding of the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund.

The basis of this Budget, of the IMF/EU deal and the four-year plan is the belief that taking €15 billion out of the economy between now and 2015 will bring us out of recession.
By the Taoiseach’s own admission €15 billion has already been taken out of the economy since 2008 – and with what result? If there is growth in the economy as Minister Lenihan claimed in his Budget speech then this Budget is going to stem that growth – it will suck the oxygen out of the economy.

The recession is not over – it is continuing and it is deepening. Month after month we have consistently had over 400,000 people unemployed.
There was nothing in this Budget to sustain existing jobs and to create new jobs because this Government has no employment strategy. In desperation, it tries to portray any marginal reduction in the Live Register figures as a sign of recovery when in fact it represents the growing numbers of young people emigrating from this country.

In his Budget 2010 speech last December Minister Lenihan said we were on the road to economic recovery. “The worst is over”, he declared and “we are turning the corner”. In this Budget speech he spoke of “clear signs of hope” and “returning to growth after deep and prolonged recession”. His words are even less credible this year than they were last December.

And in this Budget speech the Minister served up a large dollop of historical revisionism. With a straight face, Minister Lenihan said that the €19 billion budget deficit was created because the Government, during the boom, was “seeking, with the full support of those opposite, to spread the benefits of the boom across every section of the population”. The reality was that the Government refused to spread the benefits of the boom across Irish society. They refused to share the wealth. Alone among the Dáil parties during the last General Election Sinn Féin was not calling for tax cuts.


The Minister said “households and businesses continue to work off the excesses of the boom”. This is to suggest that every household grew fat during the boom or, as the Minister stated last week, “we all partied”. That is a parody of the truth and an insult to hundreds of thousands of struggling families in this State.


Last year I described as reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher the Minister’s argument that the social welfare system can “trap people in joblessness”. The only thing trapping people in joblessness is this Government which has wrecked the economy and has failed to present a stimulus package to retain and create real jobs. I also warned at that time that after the Budget 2010 attacks on people on social welfare and low income that the minimum wage would be next.

Now it has come to pass. This Budget has launched a further all-out attack on people dependent on social welfare and the slashing of the minimum wage is to follow next March.

The result of this cruel Budget will be poverty and unemployment and social misery. The cuts to social welfare are savage and it is people on social welfare who are going to bear the brunt of this Budget.

Minister Lenihan tried to justify these cuts by claiming that there was low inflation. It is a pathetic effort to defend the indefensible. The very Budget that cuts social welfare also raises a whole range of costs that will be borne by people on social welfare and other low to middle income families. According to the Consumer Price Index, prices have risen by 2% in 2010.

The basic social welfare rate is being cut by €416 per annum. A couple dependent on social welfare will be down €691 per annum. Once Child Benefit cuts are added an unemployed family with three children will be down over €1,000.
Most social welfare recipients will have €8 per week or €416 per year taken out of their pockets by this Budget.

Jobseekers Allowance has been reduced by €8 to €188 per week for those over 25. For people between 22 and 25 years of age the rate drops by €6 per week to €144.

In a Budget with no jobs strategy the Government’s message to the unemployed – and especially the young unemployed is very clear: “Subsist on less or emigrate.”

In Budget 2010 the Government’s cruellest cut was to carers. People on Carer’s Allowance lost €8.50 per week and those on Carer’s Benefit lost €8.20. It’s reckoned that over 160,000 family carers provide over 3.7 million hours of care each week.

On top of those heartless cuts we now have in Budget 2011 another €8 per week cut in Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit. That’s a weekly cut of €16.50 and €16.20 in the space of just over a year. It is an absolute disgrace.

The €8 weekly cut slashes invalidity pension, one-parent family payment, disability allowance, widows’ and widowers’ pensions, disablement pension and the blind pension. As Inclusion Ireland has pointed out, these cuts are completely at variance with the National Disability Strategy, which is often cited by Government as evidence of its commitment to people with disabilities.

This is an anti-children budget and will undoubtedly increase child poverty. The €10 reduction to child benefit for first and second child, and €20 for the third child and another €10 for the fourth child will penalise poorer families the most. It is shameful.

As the European Anti-Poverty Network has pointed out, statistics released last week by the Central Statistics Office for 2009 show that levels of consistent poverty in this State rose from 4.2% in 2008 to 5.5% while the numbers unable to afford basic requirements went up by 25%. This is even before the impact of cuts in Budget 2010 - let alone this budget - are taken into account.

Cutting social welfare should be the last thing that a Government does in a time of economic difficulty. Cutting social welfare payments will have a detrimental effect on the economy and society because those payments are always returned to the economy. They are not salted away in savings or invested abroad. They are spent on rent, mortgages, food, utilities and other essentials.

Cutting welfare is a false economy, the only tangible result of which is misery for those on the receiving end. If less money is spent, the economy will contract, businesses will struggle and more jobs will be lost. More people will be reliant on social welfare. Local economies will suffer especially badly and communities struggling out of poverty and marginalisation will be pushed back.

Last month a survey conducted by Sinn Féin with 278 social welfare recipients demonstrated that families on welfare simply cannot afford to take this hit. On the current welfare rates almost 90% of those surveyed will go without something essential this Christmas be that food, home heating fuel or Christmas presents. Respondents also confirmed that more than half of welfare recipients may borrow money to see themselves through Christmas. The only stimulus in this budget is for loan sharks and money lenders.
I have said this is an anti-children Budget and this is carried through into the cuts to Education.
Education has taken a disproportionate hit. In times of recession education could and should be used as a tool for economic recovery. It should be the gateway to growth and revival. This Government’s approach is the exact opposite. Instead of investing in and growing the education sector this Government has reduced education spending year after year. It seems intent on making education a preserve of the rich. Gone are the days of free education - in are the days of under-funded schools and exorbitant fees.

There is an overall reduction of 21% in capital expenditure for education - 9% for primary schools and a whopping 20% for secondary schools.

This is inexcusable and makes a laughing stock of the Government’s claim to be building a knowledge economy. Children will continue to go to school in prefabs, rented from private concerns at exorbitant long-term costs. Classes will be unable to cope with more children and less room. A Government with a sound education strategy and a job creation strategy would have invested in school buildings, creating much-needed employment in the construction sector and providing long-term upgrading of our educational infrastructure.


The 5% cut in capitation funding for primary schools will again penalise all schools but especially the most disadvantaged which depend more on government funding. Schools are already struggling with high class sizes and limited resources.

Children and families in rural Ireland will be worst affected by the new €50 primary school transport charge. Add to that the €50 increase in the secondary school transport fee to €350 per child per year and the impact on families with children is very substantial. And rural farming families have been hit again with the €36 million reduction in the REPS scheme.

No-one can accuse the Government of lacking innovation in this Budget. They have come up with another innovative barrier to education – a new €200 per annum fee for post Leaving Cert courses.

This anti-education Government has increased third-level registration fees by €500 to €2000 and has reduced student grants. It has cut grants to secondary schools by 9% and has taken 3% from VECs.

A cruel Government has again cut support for children with special educational needs. 60% is cut from educational disadvantage funding.

All in all it is a shameful showing on the part of the Green Party which has so often boasted of its contribution to education in this Government.

Public services are being demolished by this Budget. Health cuts of €765 million in 2011 will, I believe, result in bad outcomes and even the deaths of patients across the system. There are currently over 1500 beds in our public hospitals already closed due to cuts. The further cuts in this Budget will close hundreds, if not thousands more beds.


Health Minister Harney and the HSE have slashed services in local hospitals like Monaghan, Dundalk, Navan, Nenagh, Letterkenny, Ennis and Sligo. Other hospitals are in their sights like Clonmel and Roscommon and more.

This Budget will undoubtedly see more hospital services slashed, hospitals closed and patients facing long journeys to attend centralised and over-worked hospitals.

The recruitment ban in the health services means that trained health professionals are being educated here at great cost and to the highest standard but cannot offer their talents to our hard-pressed public health services. This Budget will give thousands more young nurses and doctors a one-way ticket out of this country at huge loss to our health services and to our economy.


The €920 million cut from social protection, the €765 million cut from health and the €170 million cut from education combined come to 85% of the total €2.2 billion cuts in spending across all Government departments.

We have heard Ministers quite rightly praising local authority workers and the emergency services for their excellent work during the recent harsh weather. I join with that praise. But how many of those workers will still be in their jobs and how many of those services will be lost next winter with this Budget’s cut of 28% in funding for local authorities?

Communities will be hit badly by that cut as they will with the cut of 44% from the Rapid scheme, 15% from regeneration projects, 63% from the Drugs Task Forces education initiative, 7% from the same task forces Community Department funding and €9 million from community development projects. There is a massive 36% cut to social housing. It is a recipe for community degeneration, not regeneration.

The Government has attempted to portray the tax changes in this Budget as reforming and progressive. They are nothing of the sort. There is no wealth tax. There is no new higher rate for those with individual incomes of over €100,000 per annum. In Sinn Féin’s economic recovery plan ‘There is a Better Way’ we show that such a new top rate of 48% would raise €410 million – well in excess of the €397 million the Government is slashing from social welfare for people of working age in this Budget.

Instead this Budget brings more people on low income into the tax net and more people on middle income into the higher tax rate, as well as creating new inequities. The new Universal Social Charge may prove more regressive than the current income and health levies. At present a person earning €25,000 pays nothing on the health levy and €500 on the income levy. Under the new system in this Budget the same person earning €25,000 will pay €1,069 in the Universal Social Charge.


A single person with no children, a PAYE employee in the private sector, and PRSI contributor, with a gross income of €25,000, will see a reduction in net income of 4.6 per cent, while an individual in the same circumstances with a gross income of €175,000 will see a reduction in net income of 3.9 per cent.


The tax increases are across the board – they fail to target those who have the ability to pay. This is a big mistake and one that will be damaging for the economy and for consumer spending. They have put more low-to-middle income earners into a higher tax rate bracket.
The minimum wage drops by 12% but the Taoiseach's salary drops by less than 6%. The Taoiseach will earn 13.8 times the salary of someone on the new Minimum Wage.

I welcome the reduction in the Taoiseach’s and Ministers’ salaries and the €250,000 per annum cap on public sector pay. But it is too little too late. If the Government had capped the salaries of public servants at €100,000 this would have saved €350 million for the State per year – nearly half of what is being cut out of the Health budget.

The HSE CEO earns in excess of €300,000 a year. The heads of our semi-states earn more again. Padraig MacManus in the ESB is on over €700,000 per year. Even with the pay cut taken by the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen still earns €36,000 more than David Cameron. The Secretary General of the Department of Finance still earns more than the Permanent Secretary of the British Treasury and the CEO of An Post still earns more than the managing director of the Royal Mail.

This Government will defend international bank bondholders, but it will not defend its own citizens.

This budget will not fix the economy. It will cause poverty and hardship. It will contract the economy further. Not one cent in tax raised in this Budget nor one cent cut from public spending will be used to reduce the deficit next year. It will all go to servicing the debt incurred by the Government’s disastrous banking policy. The Taoiseach yesterday tried to claim that the deficit was totally separate from the banking black hole. It was a statement without a shred of credibility.

The charade continues that we must take these harsh measures because after years of excess we have a burgeoning deficit. We are actually being foisted with these measures because our banks and their investors took a massive gamble - and lost.

The Budget is the opening salvo of a four-year plan which is destined to fail because it is premised on policies of slash and burn which have already failed spectacularly.

If spending cuts worked, the deficit would already be reduced. The Government talks of stimulus but it does not provide the funding for it and so its growth predictions are wildly optimistic. In addition, this four-year plan ignores the growing threat to the state's very financial existence from the Government’s bank policy. This policy assumes we can and should protect banks and their investors. It assumes that there will be no more loan defaults on the banks' books. It is a policy that is bankrupting this state.

There is no real stimulus in this Budget. €200 million in ‘activation’ measures were announced but the Government slashed the capital budget which would have created jobs. The so-called activation measures are about getting people off the dole into low-paying or no-paying jobs.

Unemployment stands at over 13% and we are facing mass emigration. The depths of misery behind these statistics cannot be exaggerated.

The State is now a major owner of property - hotels, office blocks, and ghost housing estates - yet there is no statement as to how economic value might be obtained from these assets.

The austerity measures in this Budget – the increase in VAT, the increase in taxes for those on low and middle incomes, the cuts in welfare and the planned cuts to the minimum wage — will further depress the economy and cause more jobs to be lost.

Cuts to the local government budget will force cash-strapped local authorities to raise rates for businesses and service charges, hitting the public with a double whammy.

And let’s be clear: there can be no recovery if jobs aren’t created. Jobs have to be created if we are to reduce the social welfare bill. Jobs have to be created if we are to increase the tax take. Jobs have to be created if are to restore people’s standard of living and quality of life. Jobs have to be created if we are to grow this economy.

Sinn Féin has proposed a once-off transfer from the National Pension Reserve Fund of €7 billion for a jobs stimulus– equal to the investment at the beginning of the year in AIB and Bank of Ireland.
Instead this Gvernment, in agreement with the IMF and the EU, is proposing to take billions from the same Pensions Reserve Fund to put into the black hole that is the banking system.

With the right policies and the right supports jobs can be created in sectors such as agri-food, tourism, IT and green technologies.

We can have a new generation of entrepreneurs and a revitalisation of the co-operatives sector.

This Government can always find additional billions for the banks, but says it cannot find money for recovery. We have shown where it can be found.

There is no detail in the Budget on the Government’s plans for State assets, but we know what is coming. The decision to sell off State assets to fund the growing bank debt is a crime. This is a classic example of the short-sighted policies that we have come to expect from this Government. In the good times, you sold off companies like Telecom and look where that got us - a decade of poor and often non-existent broadband provision.

State companies should be kept in state ownership. We could even ask the more profitable of these companies to frontload some of their dividends to us for the next number of years to help improve the public finances.

In every country where the IMF has interfered, the modus operandi has been to strip those countries of their assets and privatize them. They are not facing much opposition from the so-called leaders of the Opposition. Fine Gael has even provided them with a blueprint in their ‘new era’ plan. Sinn Féin will resist the selling off of State assets to fund a private banking crisis and we’ll be calling on all those progressive forces who also oppose this policy to support us.
One issue that has seldom been mentioned in our current crisis is the massive asset lying off our West coast and currently being exploited for no benefit to the Irish people. I refer to the oil and gas reserves which by right belong to the Irish people and which are estimated to be worth €500 billion. These were disgracefully given away to multinational corporations by corrupt Irish Governments. It is time they were reclaimed.

Náire ort, a Aire. Beidh na mílte Éireannaigh, fir agus mná, ag fulaingt mar thoradh air an Bhuiséad seo.

Tá slí níos fearr ann. Chuir Sinn Féin an plean sin ós do chomhair ach níor éist tú. Mholamar cáin ar shaibhreas, teorainn ar ioncaim ag na ndaoine siúd ag an leibéil is airde sa seirbhís poiblí, deireadh le scannal na dtuarastal ró-ard agus na costais ag príomhfheidhmeannaigh na gcomhlachtaí stáit. Níor éist tú. In ionad cothrom na féinne sa bhuiséad seo tá tú ag cosaint na daoine ar bharr arís agus ag ionsaí na daoine ar bhun.

Cé a bheidh ag íoc as do pholasaí tubaisteach chun bancanna teipthe agus an uasal-aicme a chosaint? Na daoine a bheidh thíos leis ná teaghlaigh óga, sean-daoine, na glúine daoine óga nach mbeidh an dara rogha acu ach imeacht as an tír seo. Na banaltraí, na múinteoirí, oibrithe sna húdaráis áitiúla, na comhraiceoirí dóiteáin - beidh siad siúd thíos leis chomh maith. Mar an gcéanna na daoine atá ag braith ar leas soisialta, tuismitheoirí aonair, daoine míchumasaithe, daoine tinn.

Tá scrois déanta agat sa bhuiséad seo agus is cuma leat cén toradh a bheidh ann do ghnáthdaoine atá ag obair agus dóibh siúd nach bhfuil postanna acu.

Níl ciall ná réasún leis an bhuiséad seo. Tá tú ag déanamh ciorraithe ar ioncaim na ndaoine a chaitheann an ioncaim sin sa gheilleagar áitiúl, ag tacú le gnóanna agus ag cruthú fostaíocht.

Níl iarracht sa bhuiséad seo chun postanna a chruthú. Má cheapann tú gur féidir linn teacht as an meathlú seo le ciorraithe a chur i bhfeidhm agus gan stráitéis chun postanna a chruthú tá tú as do mheabhair. Cuireadh ciorraithe i bhfeidhm ó 2007 agus tá an meathlú níos measa anois agus tá ard-cheannas eacnamaíochta an Stáit seo díolta agaibh don IMF agus don ECB. Má tá an toil ann is féidir postanna a chruthú. Tá sé léirithe ag Sinn Féin conas is féidir é sin a dhéanamh. Ach is léir nach bhfuil an toil ag an Rialtas seo.

This Government has consistently been offered opportunities to lift this state out of crisis. Instead of taking them – Fianna Fáil and the Greens have pushed us further into crisis. Even the most right-wing commentators in this state and internationally are questioning their slavish desire to appease the bank bondholders. The Financial Times, of all vehicles, has questioned why you are so willing to sacrifice the Irish taxpayer to protect bondholders who knew exactly the sort of risk they were taking on when they bought bonds in our banks.

They contributed to and benefited from the bubble, they should be asked to take responsibility for the bust.

This banking policy is madness and the domestic finance policies pursued in this Budget will ensure that the economy collapses completely. We won’t have a cent to deal with any of the costs the State is incurring, let alone the money to run the state. The government knows this and that’s why they ran to the IMF and the EU and negotiated one of the worst deals ever done by any Government anywhere. This deal allows for a certain percentage for the banks. The rest is for all the future deficits this Government’s policies will create. What a legacy they are leaving us. And leave us they must.

People are going to suffer grievously as a result of this Budget - that much is clear. What is not clear is why this Government insisted on introducing this budget before giving up and calling a General Election. I say to them: You should have spared us all this spectacle and you should have recognised that you have no right and no mandate to do what you are doing. You are acting in contempt of the electorate and it is clear that the Irish electorate have nothing but contempt for you.
We can only hope that you are out of office very soon. It is an absolute imperative for whoever forms the next government, and those who sit in opposition to ensure this deal is abandoned, to devise a banking plan that will actually work, to reverse these ideological and irrational cuts and to introduce a strategy for real growth.

I am appealing to all the voters who are listening to proceedings here today to base the decision on how you cast your vote on what you have heard here and what you haven’t heard. Sinn Féin has been honest in our proposals. We are not appealing to people’s greed, but their sense of what is right and fair. We can’t offer everybody something. What we can offer is honesty. We can offer them economic proposals that make sense and will fix this crisis. We can offer them a new, fairer society.
In the past few weeks we have seen thousands of people brave the weather to come out and voice their opposition to this budget. In Donegal South West the people gave their verdict on this government by endorsing Sinn Féin and our alternative platform. They also rejected the so-called opposition of Fine Gael and Labour and their consensus for cuts.
The one thing we can take from this budget today is that it will hopefully act as a long overdue wake-up call to the Irish people who have had about as much as they can bear. People-power should never be underestimated and it is people power that will eventually oust this government.
We are calling on every party seeking to enter government in the next Dáil to commit to reversing the decisions made in this Budget.

When the Irish people kick this shower out it will be because of this Budget and the rest of their economic decisions.

No party entering power after the next election can claim a mandate to implement these cuts. Sinn Féin is committed to reversing these cuts and getting the IMF out of this state.

We call on Fine Gael and Labour to commit to reversing these Budget cuts and rejecting the IMF-EU sell-out deal.

I appeal especially to the Labour Party to halt before rushing headlong into a coalition with Fine Gael. It is quite clear that the Fine Gael party wants this savage Budget passed so that it doesn’t have to pass it itself early next year. Perhaps some in the Labour Party share that view but I believe that most do not. The coming General Election may well be the greatest opportunity for the left in Irish politics in a generation. Or it may be another case of Labour propping up Fine Gael yet again.

For our part, we in Sinn Féin are quire clear. We have rejected the Consensus for Cuts. We have put forward a fairer, better way to real economic recovery.

We are committed to produce a new banking strategy that puts bank debts back in the hands of the banks, not on the Irish taxpayers' shoulders. We are committed to protect the economically vulnerable and to require those who can afford it to contribute more.

This Budget is still not a done deal. The four-year plan is not a done deal. And the IMF-EU sell-out is not completed either. If there is anyone with a shred of conscience left among those who have hitherto supported this Fianna Fáil-Green Government then now is the time for them to act in the true national interest.

And the national interest is also the interest of the people of Tipperary and Kerry and every other county and constituency. Tomorrow the Government will try to force through the Social Welfare Bill with its savage cuts to the incomes of the most vulnerable. Let those who speak of the national interest reject this Bill, reject this Budget and reject this Government.

One way or another the policies behind this Budget must be defeated. This crisis has politicised people as seldom before in our history. People are becoming more conscious of people power. But ironically they also feel powerless as a Government with no mandate and no political authority turns democracy on its head and, in its dying days, tries to impose on the Irish people this savage Budget, the IMF-EU sell-out and a doomed four-year plan.

97 years ago at Christmas 1913 James Connolly asked whether the year would end with the “Fiery Cross” of struggle or the “Christmas Bells” of peace, as the Great Lockout dragged into its fifth month. He said:

“The final word still rests with those who control the money bags; and thus we learn, hard facts teaching us, that in this gross travesty of civilisation under which we live today neither soul nor brains are the equal of gold.”

We have in this State a political class that has governed by the power of gold and greed. They have brought this economy to grief as a result. Their time is over. Now is the time for true patriots to step forward and to act in the real national interest of the Irish people. CRÍOCH

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