IMF demands more cuts as protest councillor jailed
The International Monetary Fund has ordered the Dublin government to slash dole payments, cut child benefit, and take medical cards away from more old age pensioners.
As part of the conditions of its bailout loans, the IMF also demanded the government increase the household charge. There was no call for a tax on wealth or on high earners.
Responding to the report, Sinn Fein finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, said advice from the IMF on how Ireland should fix its deficit had so far resulted in a lengthening of the Irish recession. He said the latest suggestions of further cuts and flat taxes, if implemented, would cause more damage.
“From the beginning, Sinn Fein advocated separating bank debt from sovereign debt, burning bondholders, stimulating the economy, reforming the taxation system and eliminating spending waste.
“The Troika, including the IMF, and along with the Government, has pursued a policy of bailing out banks, taxing lower earners, cutting frontline service spending and refusing first to acknowledge and then to deal with the jobs crisis. A crisis that began in 2007 is as bad as it ever was now in 2012, and we have many hard years ahead to reach the reduced deficit target.”
Mr Doherty said the measures recommended by the IMF had the potential to undermine a recovery.
“A flat rate, high property tax, levied at everybody, would seriously impact on the ability of low and middle income earners to continue consuming in this economy. This is not to mention what it will do their standard of living.
“The abolition of universal payments such as childcare and pensions would similarly target low and middle income earners disproportionately.”
Meanwhile, Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan has been imprisoned as punishment for her ‘red paint’ protest against health service cutbacks by the former 26-County Minister for Health, Mary Harney.
The eirigi councillor was arrested at Ballyfermot Garda barracks at lunchtime Wednesday before being transported to the notorious Mountjoy Prison complex. Minihan is expected serve up to seven days imprisonment as a result of her refusal to pay the 1,500 euro fine the courts imposed upon her in February 2011.
Over sixty people joined a spontaneous protest on Wednesday calling for her release.
Speaking at the protest outside of the jail, eirigi Cathaoirleach [chairperson] Brian Leeson said his colleague’s jailing was “yet another example of the two-tier justice system that operates within this state. It is now abundantly clear that there is one law for the rich and powerful and another, far more severe, law for the rest of us.
“We should all remember that this is the state that has yet to jail the corrupt Taoiseach who explained away his vast sums of unaccounted for income by claiming he won it on the horses; this is the state that has yet to jail the media tycoon who bribed a minister to win a broadcasting licence; this is the state that has failed to jail a single banker or financier for bringing the economy to the point of ruin; this is a state that has failed to jail anyone for the blood transfusion scandal which cost the lives of hundreds of people. And the list goes on and on.”
Leeson concluded by encouraging people to join further protests outside of Mountjoy over the coming days. He said protests would take place each evening at 8pm until Councillor Minihan was released.
“The difference between Louise Minihan and all of those who have escaped punishment is simple. Louise is not part of the golden circle that runs this state and she is therefore not entitled to the immunity from punishment that members of that circle enjoy. By directly challenging Harney, Louise was in fact directly challenging the entire ruling class in this state and for that she must be seen to be punished.
“The tiny minority that control this state fear people who are willing to challenge them, because they know how tenuous their grip on power actually is.”